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Thousands flee Congo in escalating refugee crisis

Congolese man
An internally displaced Congolese man stands next to his belongings on the shoreline of Lake Albert. Photo by JOHN WESSELS/AFP/Getty Images

More than 4,000 people crossed into Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo last weekend, bringing the total number of Congolese refugees displaced in 2017 to 57,000, according to the UNHCR.

What's happening: For more than a decade, the nation of 80 million has struggled to stay at peace in the wake of the Second Congo War (1998-2003) — a nine-country conflict estimated to have killed anywhere from 1 to 5 million Africans. Now ruled by a deeply unpopular, autocratic president in the seventh year of a five-year term, the DRC has descended into a tragic state of normalized ethnic violence, mass rape and widespread starvation.