BUKAVU, DR Congo
Humanitarian agencies working in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been overwhelmed following a massive displacement triggered by fighting between the Congolese army (FARDC) and rebel movement M23 in North Kivu.
Plant diseases affecting bananas and cassava are gaining ground in two provinces in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to South Kivu's provincial minister for agriculture, Gisèle Batembo.
Just two years ago, rice farmers on the Ruzizi plain in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo were content to harvest 2.5 tonnes of rice per hectare. The adoption of new techniques has seen their output rise to between six and eight tonnes, with smallholder farmers also increasing their local market share.
Ranked fifth in the world in terms of animal and plant diversity, the Democratic Republic of Congo is considered to be a treasure chest of biodiversity and a vital regulator of global warming.
Eleven soldiers found culpable in the rape of more than 50 women in the Congolese town of Fizi Centre in January, have begun serving lengthy sentences in the provincial capital, Bukavu. Their speedy trial and sentencing by a mobile court is a welcome sign of a new commitment to ending impunity for sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo are encouraged by the publication of a report detailing grave violations of human rights in the DRC. The report, covering more than 600 incidents in the ten years between March 1993 and June 2003, has drawn criticism from several governments in the region.