Human rights situation worsens in Democratic Republic of Congo

Karawa, Democratic Republic of Congo Karawa, Democratic Republic of Congo Photo by guenterguni on iStock

10 September 2021

In the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights abuses are intensifying. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported around 1200 deaths and 1100 rapes against women and girls by the armed groups in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).The DRC has remained a site of persistent violent conflict since the late twentieth century immediately after the independence. Serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in the eastern DRC by armed groups and the national army. Over 130 such groups are active in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces, including the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Nduma Defense of Congo- Renove (NDC-R), Rwandan Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and other allied Congolese ethnic groups. The UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov said that the violence is costing lives and driving people from their homes. 

President Felix Tshisekedi stated that siege measures would begin on May 6 in North Kivu and Ituri. This follows a surge in attacks by armed groups that have killed hundreds of people and internally displaced a growing number of civilians.. The displaced are living in harsh conditions and rarely getting adequate food. Many have consequently been forced to return to their places of origin, further exposing them to human rights abuses. Cherishkov said the ADF, who has links to Islamic State(ISIS), is suspected of an attack in Ituri on Saturday (4 September 2021). According to UN sources, around 30 civilians were massacred during the Ituri attack. He also reported that an armed group had raped ten displaced women in Djugu territory, Ituri province.

Both the North Kivu and Ituri regions are now under the control of the military government, and military tribunals have replaced civil courts. US counter-terrorism groups are deployed by mid-August to DRC at the invitation of the government to help the Congolese army fight the ADF. Despite the government’s effort to reduce human rights abuses, civilians are facing attacks frequently. Cheshirkov reiterated the UNHCR’s call for urgent measures to protect civilians, stating that the funding for humanitarian crises remains insufficient. UNHCR has received only 51% of the $205 million required for its DRC operations in 2021. Because of this, Cherishkov fears  they will only be able to respond to a small part of the population's urgent needs.




Author: Niranjana J Anil; Editor: Alexander James

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