December 3, 2008
War in DR Congo: The story of Pascal and Vestine

The Democratic Republic of Congo has endured one of the world’s bloodiest wars for over a decade. More than 5 million people have died, mostly from preventable disease and starvation.

In the last year alone, more than a million people have fled the fighting in eastern Congo.

In spite of a peace accord in 2003, fighting continues and many fear that foreign countries are still involved. Recently, there have been more signs of Rwandan involvement and encouragement of rebels.

The 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers in Congo cannot ease the growing number of casualties as a rebel group threatens to overthrow the Congolese government.

Worldfocus correspondent Michael J. Kavanagh of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and video journalist Taylor Krauss recently visited the refugee camps in eastern Congo. Together with Lisa Biagiotti, they produced this video on one family’s story.

Note: In the weeks since this story was filmed, the camp has been attacked and Pascal was forced to flee a third time. The camp is now deserted except for a small rebel force, and Worldfocus reporters have not been able to locate Pascal and his family.

Read reporter Michael Kavanagh’s blog post about his experience reporting with video journalist Taylor Krauss in Congo here: Giving a human face to Congo’s conflict.

Taylor Krauss recounts their detention by Congo’s secret police here: Detained by Congo’s secret police.




First off, I’d just like to say that I honestly don’t think the UN gives a f*ck about following through on its duties. Especially not in Africa. Estimates of casualties as a result of war in the Congo alone range from 4 to 5.4 to 8 MILLION. Either they don’t care, or their action to prevent any kind of genocide and human rights abuses is hostage to its very members, many of whom are criminals. Not to go on a politically sensitive tangent, but it’s sad and frustrating that there is so much hand-wringing by the UN over global warming when something MUCH more serious (and tangible) is taking place. I don’t know if I will ever trust the UN to do what’s right…


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These poor people–the suffering in their eyes is heart-wrenching…I will become a supporter of IRC because of this video.

Peace to all


I am a Congolese and would like to make some comment on the war in the DRC. The situation of the war in the Congo is confusing to most of the people and even to the people of Congo. Sometimes I do ask myself why is the world so silent about what is happening in the Congo, more than five million people died because of the war and I guess millions people still suffering because of it and the world seems to focus much more on Zimbabwe, Sudan and Iraq. I do not try to minimize what is happening in the countries mentioned above and its bad effect on the people. I just mean that the situation in the Congo should also get much attention.
The war in the Congo wears a lot of faces but the most important I believe is the economic one. The soul where the war is happening has more than 70 percent of the world reserved Coltan. Coltan is a mineral use to make cell phone, computers etc. The saddest part of the war story is the fact that most of the people around the world, including myself, enjoy cell phone, laptop… but they are other innocent people who are suffering because of the traffic of this mineral.
I appreciate the work of Michael J. Kavanagh for bringing up the story of two of those millions innocent people.
The situation of the Congo has made me to be aware of how the world and its media are corrupt.


Thanks a lot for this video it’s such a great piece of information for a talent show I’m planning with my Sunday school kids to raise awareness about this CRUEL genocide in Congo. I strongly feel us as Congolese across the world needs to raise our voices loud enough (write a letter to your local authority, newspaper, raise fund…) to get the world attention about this genocide.

(Janet Bean: please check this site to learn about Congolese voice


I tend to question why is this happening? Is there no way of contact and dialogue so that such misunderstanding are resolved? People have to understand that when they are fighiting innocent lives are lost. It is better that leaders have to show a concern over the lives of people who will be ruled then.
It is unfortunate to see that Rwanda is involved if it is true. They have to learn a lesson, as a saying goes, once bitten twice shy. I was previlaged to visit Rwanda last year. I was very much concerned to see how people suffere innocently, the killings, bitings, and many other inhuman behavior which was done that year. I am one of the peolpe who is against such things. That show how un learned people are. Peolpe have to learn to respect others in all aspects. I wish all the victims good settling down quickly. other organizations must support to end this cruel activities in people. May “GOD” be with them all the times.


Powerful, moving, and horrifically real.

I’m looking forward to seeing more related videos.


Dear Michael & crew : Thanks for covering the story.. We all pray for Pascal and family . God will save them definitely.


I have been trying to discern if there are any grass roots Congolese movements/voices, coming out of the Congo, speaking to their position on the conflict.

As an activist I feel I am best used when I help raise the voice of those I am in solidarity with. Often with activism good intentions can create problems not intended. If the ramifications of our activist actions are not clearly understood, or are not in line with the community we’re standing up for, we do more harm than good.

I’m trying to find out what it is the Congolese want. I know the governmental lines; both Rwanda and Congo and I know what the various militia groups contend are their motives, but I have not heard what the people themselves are hoping for.

Are their voices unable to make it to the media? Are they too distressed to form a unified desire other than for it all to just stop, or do they fear what may happen if they make their voices heard? How do they feel about Nkunda, Kabila…?

I am hoping you can offer some clarification. With such limited reporting from the area a truly clear picture has not been possible to find. Thank you for your much needed reporting on this devastating conflict.


Thank you, Michael & crew, for covering this story – am a supporter of IRC, let us know other ways we can help.

Let the Pascal & Vestine & families know people are praying, meditating, hoping for them.

Be safe, in peace, Susan


Sitting here watching this powerful story, I feel so sad for these people and so blessed to be safe. They are our brother’s and our sisters though we have never met, I feel their pain. We all must strive for EQUAL RIGHTS AND JUSTICE around the world. We must be advocates for those whom cannot help themselves. We must remember their stories and tell it to everyone who will listen. I run fundraiser’s in Cheyenne Wyoming to bring awareness about this seemingly neverending issue. We must do all that we can individual and as a whole. Even if we feel as though out efforts produce minimal effects, we are making a difference, we must carry on and pursue what we know must come to and end. Their suffering is too great to do nothing. Imagine if this was your story, wouldn’t you want help too? Anything helps, offerings at church, awareness events at schools, a booth at the carnival. We MUST utilize all our resources. It doesn’t matter how you get the message out, we just have to do it! These people are relying on the good will nature of man to help them live in peace! Good luck to you all!!


Lisa: Quite a chilling depiction of this tragedy. Can you direct all of us to ways we can perhaps contribute to these groups?

As always a first class development of this hardscrabble existence and great editing. Congrats.
Suzanne & Bob


Hi Katie: Thanks so much for your comment. We’re actually covering that very topic in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Thanks again,
Lisa Biagiotti


Its wonderful and so important that you have covered the horrors that are happening in the DRC, but I was really surprised that you didn’t cover the mass rapes and femicide that is being used as a tool of war there as well. People need to know that this is happening!

Here is a really good article by Eve Ensler –


Thank you Michael Kavanagh & Taylor Krauss for sharing this powerful story. I just returned from South Africa & heard similiar stories from the Zimbabwean refugees living in Johannesburg. God bless! Are you making a full length documentary?


I have tears in my eyes. We need to do something about this. I just hope Pascal and his family are safe. Honestly, it reminds me of the book Long Way Gone, a brutal but beautifully written story.


Worldfocus correspondent Michael Kavanagh must have the heart of a lion to venture into Congo.


Can’t wait to watch this

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