The Great Lakes region takes its name from Lakes Kivu and Tanganika, which form parts of the borders that separate the countries of Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
Factors which have created conflict across the region revolve around international and internal pressure towards democratic and representational forms of government. As a result, internal power struggles by elitist groups, trying to maintain their privileged positions, have led to the manipulation of ethnic differences as a means of furthering political and military control. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and the continued instability of Burundi are recent expressions of these tensions.
A further contributory factor to the conflict is the intense pressure on limited land resources.
Oxfam International is pressing for a coherent and co-ordinated international strategy for the region that links the different players involved (regionally and internationally), and which covers a range of issues - human rights, political settlement, and reconstruction.