Almost a thousand civilians killed in six months in eastern DRC, despite the state of emergency imposed in May

Since the 6th to the military to confront the rebel groups.

The Kivu Security Barometer (KST), a project led by NGO Human Rights Watch and New York University’s Congo Study Group, has since confirmed the deaths of around 950 civilians in Ituri and North Kivu to be even higher.

The death toll of 944 was after the massacre of at least 16 civilians in an attack on three villages in the territory of Beni. attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group affiliated with the Islamic State of Central Africa (ISCA) in North Kivu, the site of a new Ebola outbreak and one of the hardest hit by the violence.

Almost a thousand civilians killed in six months in eastern DRC, despite the state of emergency imposed in May
Almost a thousand civilians killed in six months in eastern DRC, despite the state of emergency imposed in May

Beni has been the site of dozens of attacks by the ADF, a Ugandan Islamist group formed in 1996 that later expanded its operations to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is believed to be the deadliest of the incidents operating in the region, killing hundreds of civilians and civilians Security guards.

The attacks, which included the burning of villages and the kidnapping of hundreds of people, raise fears that the death toll is much higher as bodies are later found in wooded areas of the attacked areas and on community graves.

Despite the fact that the ADF has an overwhelming weight, there are a large number of armed groups in these provinces, including the Cooperative Militia for the Development of the Congo (CODECO), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the May-May -Nationalists militias.

This prompted Tshisekedi to declare a state of emergency in Ituri and North Kivu and to use the military as governors to promote security operations with dire human rights in the face of the threat that has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.

The president was satisfied with the army’s progress in June, arguing that “at some point it must be the armed forces’ turn,” although he acknowledged that it would take time to end the presence of these armed groups. some of them are deeply rooted in the country.

However, local residents and members of civil society have repeatedly denounced that large areas still lack the necessary protection so that groups of militiamen can carry out lightning attacks that devastate the population.

Reagan el Miviri, KST analyst, and Pierre Boisselet, the organization’s coordinator, argued in an article that the military solution “has not yet achieved the expected results”, stressing that “the situation has occasionally worsened,” as in the IM The offensive against the ADF launched in October 2019, followed by a wave of attacks that has claimed unprecedented civilian deaths since 2014 and 2015.

El Miviri and Boisselet have stated that the ADF has “directed its scope” to the areas of Irumu and Mambasa in Ituri province, and have even blamed the armed forces and police for the deaths of 65 civilians following criticism from various political sources Areas with regard to the meaningfulness of the state of emergency.

While the state of emergency – which involves a delegation of powers from civil authorities to the military – was adopted by an overwhelming majority, recent parliamentary votes to extend it have led to growing opposition and even a boycott of dozens of lawmakers.

The decision on the state of emergency was made in line with Tshisekedi’s announcement in 2020 that it would promote a program for demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (GDR) and the establishment of contacts with militia officers who wanted to surrender their weapons.

In August, for example, she appointed Emmanuel Tommy Tambwe as the national coordinator of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Reintegration and Stabilization (DDRCS) program after a similar initiative failed in 2015 despite requests from the United Nations Security Council.

The authorities have established contacts with a number of armed groups, which has resulted in the surrender of dozens of militiamen who have accepted their reintegration, although the leaders of these formations have not suffered any significant losses, so their operational capacity has not suffered.

In fact, El Miviri and Boisselet have said in their article that “many” of those who surrendered have taken up arms again while pointing to skepticism about the figure of Tambwe, who is a senior official of the Congolese group for Democracy (RCD) was. and the Alliance for the Liberation of Eastern Congo (ALEC), two Rwandan-backed rebel groups.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege showed his “caution” about the appointment and chose to “break with policies that aim to promote those who should be brought to justice,” while HRW said that the appointment also raises “serious concerns.”

Likewise, some armed groups have expressed their rejection of the appointment, which has been criticized by civil organizations such as Solidaridad de Jóvenes Fuliiru (SOJEF) and the coordination committee of the Banyamulenge Mutual Societies, which threatens to ruin the program.

Nonetheless, the UN Under-Secretary of State for Africa in the Department for Peacebuilding Policy and Affairs, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, recently praised the efforts in the DDRCS program and expressed her alarm about the “worsening human rights situation” and the “great burden”. “on civilians, especially women and children.

The conflict is fueled by the exploitation of natural resources by armed groups, which has led the UN Security Council this week to call for the coordination of efforts to “reduce the economic networks” of these formations and the exploitation of women and children in the process of these resources.

The text endorsed by the panel emphasizes that “there is no military solution” to the threat posed by these groups and is committed to an “integrated and regional” position of the countries that make up the Great Lakes region, with the support of the UN and the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

In particular, it condemns the illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources by armed groups and criminal networks in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly “conflict minerals” including tin, tantalum, gold and diamonds, as well as cocoa, wood and wild animals.

For this reason, he condemned the negative impact of the conflict on natural areas which “undermine lasting peace and development” in the Great Lakes region, for which he threatened UN sanctions, although they have not been proven effective in the past Curb the operations of these groups.

Joao Samuel Caholo, Secretary General of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, recently told the UN that peacekeeping played a “fundamental role” in addressing this issue and urged them to join efforts to ensure security against rebel groups and militias participate.

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