AFRICA/DR CONGO - Local human rights activists denounce the precarious situation in South and North Kivu

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 armed groups   violence   human rights  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Following a new defection of a high-ranking Congolese officer from the Banyamulenge community, who left the ranks of the FARDC (Forces Armed Congolese) to head towards the highlands of the Ruzizi plain, the situation security in these areas has worsened, with the consequent increase in threats to the local population and to human rights", reads a note sent to Agenzia Fides by ACMEJ/DH, an association for the defense of human rights in this area of South Kivu, eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For decades, South Kivu has been facing various armed groups, some of them of foreign origin, others born locally with contacts outside the DRC. The recent deterioration in security risks undermining the work carried out in mid-January-March 2022, when the community reconciliation process between the Bafuliru and Banyamulenge communities was about to begin. Thanks in part to community outreach activities facilitated by the ACMEJ team in the highlands, the two communities began to talk to each other, raising hopes for a better future among the local population. However, in recent weeks the security situation has deteriorated due to "continuous aggression by some national armed groups allied with Rwanda", the note said.
Since January, Burundian soldiers and militiamen from Imbonerakure ("those who see far" in Kirundi), a militia close to the Bujumbura government, have been present in South Kivu (see Fides 18/2/202). The Uvira section of the Fight for Change movement denounces the arrest of two of its activists who were organizing a protest march against the Burundian military presence in the area. According to a note sent to Agenzia Fides, "the activists are detained in poor conditions and their health is deteriorating day by day". In the neighboring province of North Kivu, security conditions also remain precarious with the reappearance of the M23, an armed group also known as the "Congolese Revolutionary Army", defeated in 2013 by the FARDC but which reappeared at the end of last year, accusing the Kinshasa authorities for failing to fulfill their commitments to demobilize their combatants. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/4/2022)