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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Asylum countries of origin: DR Congo
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The facts and figures behind the Democratic Republic of Congo, the tenth top country by applicant for asylum in the UK in 2002.

During 2002 there were 2,685 claims for asylum made in the UK by people from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Of the 520 adjudications in 2002, 20 people were given refugee status and another 55 given exceptional leave to remain.

DR Congo is a vast country which enormous economic resources.

Yet it is at the centre of what has been described as "Africa's world war", a four-year-long conflict that sucked neighbouring countries.

Aid agencies estimate that 2.5 million have lost their lives since the conflict started.

The United Nations estimates a further two million have been internally displaced or made homeless in the eastern part of the country alone.

DR Congo effectively became a battleground for competing African powers with conflicting interests and alliances.

Population: 52 million
Capital: Kinshasa
Major religions: Christianity, Islam

Two of the foreign armies, Rwanda and Uganda, backed different rebel groups, producing an extremely complicated cocktail of inter-ethnic rivalries and flashpoints.

"The catastrophic five-year war pitting the Congolese government against ever-splintering rebel groups continued through most of [2002] with belligerents killing, raping and otherwise injuring thousands of civilians," said Human Rights Watch in its most recent report.

"Combatants from all sides raped and otherwise sexually assaulted women and girls. In some cases, victims were abducted and held for weeks or months to provide sexual and other services."

Hopes for peace focus on a deal in April 2003 for an interim constitution ahead of elections in two years.


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