Bukavu is a city in eastern
Republic of the Congo (DRC), lying at the extreme south-eastern extent of
Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda, and
separated from it by the outlet of the Ruzizi River.
It is the capital of the
province and as of 2009 it had an
estimated population of 241,690., with another 250,000 people
living in the surrounding towns and villages.
established in 1901 by the Belgian colonial
in Dutch) until 1954, it had a
prominent European population under colonial rule. They were
attracted by the subtropical climate (Lake Kivu is 1,500 metres
above sea level) and scenic location (Bukavu is built on five
peninsulas and has been described as "a green hand, dipped in the
lake"). Many colonial villas have gardens sloping down to the
By contrast, the main residential district for ordinary people,
Kadutu, climbs up the hillside inland. The surrounding hills reach
a height of 2,000 metres.
an administrative centre for
the whole of the Kivu region, the
town lost some of its status as result of the growth of Goma.
Following the Rwandan Genocide
members of the former Hutu-led government fled as part of the
Great Lakes refugee
. The refugee camps around Goma and Bukavu
became a center of the Hutu insurgency from the
camps against the new Tutsi government of
Rwanda. In November 1996 at the start of the First Congo War, Rwandan government forces
consequently attacked the Hutu camps, and forces of the then
Zaire government which allowed the insurgency.
Rwandan government supported rebels in Zaire led by Laurent Kabila
who overthrew the Kinshasa
government with their help, and then fell out with them, leading to
the Second Congo War
supported the rebel Rally
for Congolese Democracy
(RCD) against Kabila. The RCD was
dominated by the Banyamulenge
of the Tutsi and Bukavu saw sporadic fighting between government
forces and the RCD, especially in 2004.
On June 3, 2004, protestors in several Congolese cities took to the
streets to demonstrate against the United
for failing to prevent Bukavu from falling to
Rwandan-backed RCD forces led by General
. About 16.000 women were raped on a single weekend after
General Nkunda told his troops "This city is yours for three days."
In September 2007 Nkunda, who had been persuaded to fall in line
with the peace accords which ended the war and re-integrate his
troops with the Congolese government forces, again rebelled and
started attacking government troops north of Goma.
Bukavu was an important transport hub and gateway to eastern DR
Congo, but as a result of the wars the road network has
deteriorated and highways to Goma, Kisangani and other towns have
not been fully restored. As with Goma, close proximity to the paved
road network of East Africa
functioning eastern section of the Trans-African Highway to Mombasa
allow a faster recovery than other Congolese towns. Bukavu's proximity to
Tanganyika ports of
Bujumbura and Kalundu-Uvira give it an
additional advantage, with access on the lake to the railheads of Kigoma (linked to
Salaam) and Kalemie (rail link
to Katanga, in need of
Bukavu has numerous lakeside wharves
transport is used extensively in the Congolese waters of the lake
in the absence of well maintained roads.
(ICAO code:FZMA, IATA
code: BKY) located about 30 kilometres north is the domestic
airport for Bukavu.
Bukavu is home to the Panzi Hospital
Bukavu is also home to the Catholic University of Bukavu's School
of Medicine and General Reference teaching hospital.
The pharmaceutical factory Pharmakina owned by a German immigrant
produces the antimalarial drug quinine
the generic AIDS
. Pharmakina also runs an AIDS diagnostic
and treatment center.. With 740 employees and about 1000 free-lance
workers Pharmakina is the largest employer in town.
Status of Women
Women continue to face major problems of violence in the wake of
war in the eastern DRC. Fondation
in August 2007 launched a
project for women's trauma healing and care, based in
Although not threatened by volcanoes as Goma is, Bukavu is equally
in danger from a potential limnic
from Lake Kivu, in which vast quantities of dissolved
carbon dioxide and methane could explode from the lake and threaten
the lives of the 2 million people who live near the lake.
- UN Department for Humanitarian Affairs, Inter-Regional
Information Network briefings IRIN