DRC, concerns about increasing number of attacks on civilians

 Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) PhoPeterHermesFurian/iStock

19 March 2021

The UNHCR spokesperson recently issued a statement on the armed attacks causing thousands to flee their homes since the start of 2021.

On 19 March 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Babar Baloch, warned about the increasing number of attacks carried out by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) against civilians. Our recent article has underlined the most hit regions are the north-eastern ones, and that the main armed group involved is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which has killed almost 200 civilians and injured dozens of others since January 2021. During 2020, ADF was also responsible for additional attacks, which caused the death of 465 Congolese.

“It seems that since the beginning of the year they have gone on a rampage in terms of raiding villages, killing civilians, kidnapping people, leaving people injured behind and the consequences are really, really clear on the desperate population who have to flee, in cases many times from each location to another.” Baloch stated that there are different likely hypotheses in terms of reasons why these attacks happen. Some assume that they constitute retaliation by armed groups against military operations. Punishment against communities that are believed to share AFD positions could also be an explanation.

Moreover, Baloch estimated that approximately 40,000 people are currently displaced within the Beni territory in North Kivu province and nearby villages in Ituri province. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) live in appalling conditions, not having access to shelters, food, water or health care, which further exacerbates the COVID-19 crisis and the Ebola context. Shortly prior to this mass displacement, 100,000 IDP already needed assistance in Beni. In light of the existing funding shortages that UNHCR is experiencing, its spokesperson urged to provide US$2 million to reinforce its protection and humanitarian response in the region.


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Author: Barbara Caltabiano

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