Russ Feingold in the Congo

The conflict in eastern Congo dates back to 1994, when genocidaires fleeing Rwanda set up camp across the border, prompting the Rwandan government to back rival rebel groups to contain them, and it continues to this day. Estimates of its death toll range in the several millions. In October 2013, however, rare good news came out of the region when a rebel group called M23, which had been battling Congolese forces for over a year, abruptly laid down its arms.

In January 2014, Russ Feingold, the U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of Congo, traveled to the Congo to meet with politicians, civil society leaders, U.N. peacekeepers and others in an effort to implement a peace deal. Feingold is a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, perhaps best known for the campaign finance bill he passed with Senator John McCain, but he is not new to Africa: For 18 years, he served on the Africa Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This project outlines the sources of conflict in the eastern Congo, details what U.S. diplomacy looks like from the receiving end and examines the role of outside powers in helping bring an end to Africa’s worst war.

Eastern Congo: The Plight of the Banyamulenge

For decades, the Banyamulenge people of eastern Congo have found themselves foreigners in their own country. In January 2014, they met with Russ Feingold, the U.S. special envoy to the region.

Russ Feingold in Congo

In late January 2014, Feingold led an American delegation across Congo. His goal: to help get the Congolese government to start acting like a state.