Mass Graves of 535 Victims of Inter-Ethnic Violence Found in DRC

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5 February 2018

Inter-ethnic violence between the Banunu and Batende communities in the DRC surges amidst political tensions and ebola outbreaks, leaving hundreds dead

UN investigators have found mass graves of at least 535 victims of inter-ethnic attacks between the Banunu and Batende communities in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet stated that according to “credible reports,” the massacre was “organized and planned” and carried out over several days beginning on 16 December 2018. Join UN Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) investigations indicate that while there is no confirmation of the perpetrator, “the attacks were conducted in an organized and planned manner, and were extremely violent and fast, leaving little time for the populations to flee.” The massacre left 111 wounded villagers and another 16,000 to flee the region, 7,000 of which crossed the river into the Republic of Congo.

While the Banunu and Batende communities have a history of conflict and ethnic violence is a not uncommon occurrence in the DRC, Yumbi, the area they share is generally considered more stable than other regions of the country. The massacre occurred at a point of high political tensions in the DRC, with the country’s presidential election taking place on 30 December 2018, which had been repeatedly delayed by the government of President Joseph Kabila. Voters in Yumbi were unable to cast their votes, as the Electoral Commission building was totally destroyed in the ransacking of the village. Additionally, an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in eastern DRC has now officially become the second largest ever with more than 740 people infected and 460 dead so far, adding an additional layer of tension in the region.

The UN and its humanitarian partners in the DRC have dispatched emergency help in the form of medicine, food, water tablets, and malaria kits to replace those destroyed in the violence, and further assistance is on its way. The United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) said it “strongly condemns” the violence and is calling for a thorough investigation that would “bring justice to the victims and promote reconciliation between the two communities.” Additionally, the UNICEF Representative in the DRC stated that although they have controlled the disease in the regions along the DRC’s eastern border, the virus continues to spread due to insecurity and population movement.


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