Why they're dying in the Congo

Why they're dying in the Congo

Chlidren in a hospital in the DRC

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BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle explores why over five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past decade.

Statistics from aid agency The International Rescue Committee show mortality rates in Congo to be significantly higher than other sub-Saharan African countries. Mark finds out why DRC is arguably suffering the world's deadliest crisis since World War II.

Violent conflict is one cause. The armies of half a dozen African states have become involved in the region and the UN has its largest peacekeeping force there - but the vast majority of deaths are caused by treatable conditions such as malaria and malnutrition.

Mark travels by boat up the River Congo to visit villages in the west of the country, and drives through the war-ravaged agricultural communities of the east, near the volatile border with Rwanda. He comes across a number of mothers in the towns and villages, every one of whom has experienced the death of a child. Many have lost more than one.

The two part documentary features Congolese health personnel, fishermen and farmers.

Doyle meets the doctor who runs the Accident and Emergency department of the country's biggest hospital - but who does not have a single bandage to treat a newly-arrived road-crash victim. "It hurts me", says the doctor; "I am helpless".

First broadcast 13 August 2008

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