The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) denounced on Friday that almost 6,000 people had fled the “brutal attacks” carried out in recent days by the militias of the Allied Democratic Forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have been.
The ADF militia, allegedly linked to the Islamic State jihadist group, has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the 1990s and continues to generate violence in the region despite repeated offensives against them.
This makes it one of the most dangerous armed groups operating in the African country. The United Nations Joint Humanitarian Aid Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UNJHRO) announced in February that around 850 civilians had been killed by this militia in 2020 in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
The most recent series of attacks, focused on this last province, began on May 31 with two simultaneous attacks on the fields near the towns of Boga and Tchabi, killing at least 57 civilians, including seven children who had already shot machetes. Several were injured and 25 people kidnapped. In addition, 70 rural homes and small shops were burned to the ground.
The attack in Boga was particularly bloody, in which 31 men, women and children died, many of them burned alive, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch complained at a press conference in Geneva.
“The UN refugee agency is outraged by the latest atrocities in this series of atrocities committed by armed groups in the east of the country,” denounced Baloch and called for “an immediate increase in security forces in the region.” to “all parties to respect the humanitarian character of the camps for displaced persons”.
The current situation is alarming. Fearing new attacks, around 5,800 have fled Boga “with nothing other than what they are wearing”. Most have found refuge in the homes of families in the area who are already practically lacking in means of subsistence. Others have taken refuge in overcrowded churches.
The insecurity in the region also affects humanitarian work. Health centers have had to cease their activities and staff in Ituri’s capital, Bunia. With this in mind, UNHCR has in recent days denounced an attack on the facilities of a local humanitarian partner “which has left thousands of people without vital aid”.
More than five million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have escaped violence and insecurity. 1.7 million people have been displaced in Ituri Province alone.