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Assessment for Luba in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2000
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Luba in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo, 31 December 2000, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Dem. Rep. of the Congo Facts
Area:    2,345,410 sq. km.
Capital:    Kinshasa
Total Population:    49,000,000 (source: unknown, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

Because the Luba area is currently controlled by pro-government forces opposed to the RCD (Tutsi rebels), the Luba are not at imminent risk of governmental repression or discrimination. However, as long as sporadic violence continues in the general region, the Luba must be considered an at-risk minority if the balance of power shifts in the near future. The Luba remaining in the Katanga region are especially at risk, given the intense levels of violence in that region. Further, the Kabila (Laurent and Joseph) regime, while no doubt pro-Luba, is by no means unified, since Laurent Kabila excluded Etienne Tshisekedi, a fellow Luba, from his government. Tshisekedi has huge popular support in Kinshasa and Kasai province and his exclusion has created a rift among supporters and opponents of the Joseph Kabila government. This split in Luba loyalty does not inspire confidence for the near-term democratic prospects of the DRC. While Joseph Kabila has talked of democratic reform and bringing an end to the violence in the DRC, these words have, to date, not been backed by perceptible action.

Analytic Summary

The Luba people live in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the provinces of Kasai and Shaba (Katanga) (GROUPCON = 3). The Luba, mainly Christian since conversions during colonial times (BELIEF = 0; CULDIFXX = 0), have become an advantaged minority under the recent Kabila regimes (first, Laurent from 1996, then Joseph since January 2001, both of whom are Luba—ATRISK3 = 1).

During the late 1950s, clashes over land were fought between the Luba-Kasai and Lulua. By this time, another ethnic group, the Lunda, was also resentful of the positions held by the Luba-Kasai in Katanga. Ethnic rivalry flared after the 1957 urban council elections in which the Luba-Kasai gained victory. At independence from Belgium, the people of Kasai attempted to secede led by Albert Kalonji. Large numbers of Luba were killed in 1960 by government forces repelling the secessionist attempt. In Katanga province, the Lunda also had aspirations of secession. They were led by Moise Tshombe. Both bids for independence were abandoned by 1963.

During the post-colonial rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, the Luba faced great repression and discrimination. The government encouraged the Lunda of Katanga to harass and expel the Luba-Kasai from their homes. Mobutu's armed forces were ineffectual in stopping the violence and were sometimes involved. By mid-1993, reports indicated that more than 200,000 Luba-Kasai had been forced to flee their homes and return to their "native" Kasai province, which many had never actually been to before.

The violence targeting the Luba-Kasai in Katanga receded during 1995-1996 largely because hundreds of thousands of Luba fled the province. A rebellion, sparked by ethnic violence against Banyarwandans (Congolese Hutus and Tutsi of Rwandan descent) in the east and later led by Laurent Kabila, began in Zaire in the fall of 1996. This rebellion spread across the country from October 1996 until May 1997 when Mobutu fled the country and overshadowed all other conflicts within the country during this time period. A second rebellion against Kabila's regime began in August 1998 when Kabila expelled his Rwandan allies. The Rwandans had aided Kabila in his rebellion against Mobutu because they were concerned with the presence of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutus, many of whom were believed to be genoçidaires, who were taking refuge in Zaire. After some months in power, Kabila faced pressure from "native" groups in Zaire, which he renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo, to oust the Rwandans, and eventually the Congolese Tutsis. Kabila allied himself with the remaining Rwandan Hutus in Congo and other ethnic groups residing in the east, while the Congolese Tutsis allied themselves with the Rwandans and Ugandans, and some Congolese ethnic groups and former Congolese military personnel. Since fighting resumed in the country, the eastern region has been extremely unstable and the people of the region have suffered greatly. South Kivu and Katanga have been very hard-hit by the fighting. Kabila is being supported by Libya, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Namibia. It is unclear how the Luba-Kasai have been affected by the recent fighting, but since much of the east is affected, they are not likely to have escaped the conflict, nor is there any indication that the Luba are taking sides in the present conflict. In late 1999, a cease-fire was agreed to (the Lusaka peace accords), but all sides in the conflict remain wary of each other, and the prospects for peace are not promising. As violence has continued. In an effort to stop the violence, Joseph Kabila has invited the UN Peace Observation Mission in the Congo (MONUC) to help enforce measures described in the Lusaka peace accords.

As aforementioned, the ascension of Kabila in the DRC effectively ended government-induced political and economic discrimination against the Luba (POLDIS03 = 0; ECDIS03 = 0). Yet, the Luba, like all of the DRC's ethnopolitical groups have been very negatively-affected by "Africa's First World War" in the DRC, which since 1998 has pitted the government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda. The provinces with a substantial Luba population in fact continue to have a heavy Zimbabwean troop presence, which for the most part has served not as a tool of repression (REP03=0 for all categories), but as protection for the Luba against a nearby hostile Tutsi presence whose militia were abandoned by Laurent Kabila after he gained a power base by 1997.


United States' Department of State. "Congo, Democratic Republic of the: Country Reports on Human Rights practices." 2001, 2002 and 2003.

CIA World Factbook. "Congo, Democratic Republic of the." 2004.

Lexis-Nexis 2001-2003

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