IOM has just released the 2009 Country Profile for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire). With a population estimated at nearly 68 million inhabitants, concentrated along the periphery of the country and with 10,292 km of common border with nine neighbouring countries, sound migration and border management practices are critical issues for the DRC, according to the report.
The DRC has rich natural resources, particularly mineral resources. These have however also been linked to a series of violent conflicts in recent years, maintaining an extremely high level of poverty, and effectively thwarting Millennium Development Goals. The continued presence of foreign armed groups, such as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) has also added to the insecurity in the country. In 2007, the DRC was ranked 176th out of 182 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index (UNDP Human Development Report 2009). According to the same source, in 2000-2007, 59.2% of the population was living on less than $1.25 USD per day. According to official figures for 2004-2005, the unemployment rate in the DRC was 3.7%, but it can be assumed that the actual number is much higher given the absence of state systems and supports effectively tracking unemployment rates.
More recently, and likely as a result of the armed violence that the country has experienced, the profile notes a steady decrease in the number of immigrants over the previous two decades - from a range of origin countries including the Russian Federation, Mexico, India and Ukraine - dropping to a rate of negative 22.7% between 1995 and 2000. According to the report, the number of immigrants in the DRC has declined from just over 1 million in 1960, to 754,000 in 1990, to 480,000 in 2005, to an estimated 445,000 in 2010. Valid figures are not available on migrant workers in particular, partly due to the predominance of the informal economy in the DRC. Data are also lacking on irregular immigrants, however given neighbouring country ethnic links to nationals of the DRC, irregular migration is assumed to be a significant phenomenon in the country.
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