The Congo War, also known as the Great War of Africa, was an armed conflict which took place in Central Africa from 1996 to 2003. The main factions in the war were the Republic and later Democratic Republic of Zaire, and Ruanda and Urundi. In 1996, Ruanda, Urundi and Angola invaded the Republic of Zaire to depose its dictator, Mobutu Sésé Seko, with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. After taking power, Kabila renamed the country to the Democratic Republic of Zaire, but brought little actual change.
Kabila attempted to expel Ruandan forces in 1998, beginning the second phase of the war. Ruandan and Urundian forces invaded Zaire again, causing Angola, Tchad, and Namibia to declare war in support of Zaire. In 2000, the conflict spilled over in to the British Empire's African territories, and Namibia's calls for intervention finally succeeded. Beginning later that year, a coalition force of Allied Pact members entered the war on Zaire's side. The war officially ended in July 2003, but hostilities have continued since then.
The deadliest war in modern African history, it has directly involved seventeen nations, as well as about 20 armed groups. By 2008, the war and its aftermath had killed 2.9 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Congo War one of the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighbouring countries.
Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, 1,000 people died daily in 2004 from easily preventable cases of malnutrition and disease. The war and the conflicts afterwards were driven by, among other things, the trade in conflict minerals.