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LUKUTU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO MARCH 15: Clarisse Mondo, age 13, waits for a boat to leave on March 15, 2006 in Lukutu, Congo, DRC. Clarisse traveled from Kisangani by herself as her sister died and she?s now going to look for her mother in Bumba, a journey of about a week. She haven?t seen her for ten years and don?t know her address. About five hundred people traveled on the boat from Kisangani to Kinshasa, a journey of about 1750 kilometers. It takes from 3-7 weeks, depending on the boat. Congo River is a lifeline for millions of people, who depend on it for transport and trade. During the Mobuto era, big boats run by the state company ONATRA dominated the traffic on the river. These boats had cabins and restaurants etc. All the boats are now private and are mainly barges that transport goods. The crews sell tickets to passengers who travel in very bad conditions, mixing passengers with animals, goods and only about two toilets for five hundred passengers. The conditions on the boats often resemble conditions in a refugee camp. Congo is planning to hold general elections by July 2006, the first democratic elections in forty years..(Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)..
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