Democratic Republic of the Congo

Caritas Australia supports programs that help the re-integration of ex-combatants, as well as helping communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and improve quality of life in rural communities.

Women singing ,

Why we work in the DRC

WE BELIEVE that those most vulnerable to exploitation deserve protection, care, and the chance to build their own futures. With women and children particularly suffering in the DRC, our programs seek to bring physical and psychosocial healing, education and hope to their communities.

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Caritas Australia has been working in the DRC since 1999


Caritas supports three programs through two local partners in the DRC


 Protection, sustainable livelihoods, civilian peace-building, conflict prevention, and resolution

Protection and Re-Integration of Ex-Combatants in the Diocese of Bukavu

Photo Credit : Lulu Mitshabu and Jeannot Kassa, May 2019

Running since: 2015

Partner Agencies: Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Caritas Bukavu

Aims: To help ex-combatants transition from military to civilian life, with a particular focus on establishing sustainable livelihoods

Who it is for: Ex-combatants (male and female) in Bukavu and the host communities.

Achievements: Over 1900 people have been trained in sustainable agricultural practices which improve crop yields. Vulnerable, marginalised communities were helped to set up their own savings group and access small loans to create their own businesses. Twelve sustainable small enterprises were created. The program has supported ex-combatants to work together with other members in the villages on advocacy activities for the common good which has contributed to stronger social cohesion.

Fact: This program has touched the lives of over 30,000 people

More Background

Despite its wealth of minerals and fertile land, natural disasters, conflict, disease, and malnutrition have devastated economic and social development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with about 5.4 million people losing their lives between 1998 and 2007. Most of Caritas Australia’s work is focused on the eastern part of the DRC which has been an area of intense conflicts over the past 25 years. There are nearly 60 armed groups in the region with reported criminal activities, such as forced recruitment of young people, kidnapping and clashes between armed groups that occur regularly.

Displacement is a huge issue. In 2017, violence forced millions of people to flee their homes; an average of 50 families per hour, each day. In total there are over 4.49 million internally displaced people in DRC – the highest of any African nation.  Poverty and instability mean that many children are unable to go to school.

Gender-based violence Over one million women and girls have been sexually assaulted in the DRC over the last 20 years. Perpetrators mostly escape justice, reinforcing a culture of violence against women. There is limited medical or psychosocial support for women and girl survivors of sexual assault. 

Health Maternal and infant mortality rates are high. Around 88 out of 1,000 children die before they are five. DRC is also grappling with the world’s second largest Ebola epidemic on record, as well as other diseases, such as yellow fever, malaria and a measles outbreak that has already killed thousands of people.

Relief Web
Relief Web


How we help

Caritas Australia’s work focuses on helping those whose lives have been affected by trauma and conflict in the DRC. We support programs covering issues such as HIV and AIDS, healthcare, psychosocial support, microfinance and agriculture.