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Kivu braces for potential UN-armed group clashes
2 August 2013 (IRIN) - A UN ultimatum for armed groups around Goma,
capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) North Kivu
Province, to disarm, expired on 1 August and a security zone has been
set up around the city. Goma is calm, but civilians, aid agencies and
NGOs wait nervously as the UN's first ever "offensive"
peacekeeping force prepares to fully deploy.
Kivu, MONUSCO [the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC ] considers
any individuals who are not members of the national security forces
and who carry a firearm in Goma and its northern suburbs an imminent
threat to civilians and will disarm them in order to enforce a
security zone to protect the densely populated area of Goma and
Sake," MONUSCO said in a statement [
] on 30 July, adding that the operation to enforce the security zone
would, for the first time, involve its UN Force Intervention Brigade
] a 3,000-strong international force mandated to "neutralize.
and disarm" all armed groups in eastern DRC.
MONUSCO, about 75 percent [
] of FIB's troops - from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania - are
already on the ground; the brigade "will carry out targeted
offensive operations in support of the Congolese army or
Speaking to the press on 25 July, the
brigade's commanding officer, Brig-Gen James Mwakibolwa of Tanzania,
gave assurances that "Goma will never fall again as long as the
FIB is on the ground. That's the reason why the brigade is doing all
in its powers through patrols to protect Goma and its environs."
of the first targets of the FIB will be the rebel M23, [
] mutineers who have been fighting the DRC's army, FARDC, since April
Since 14 July, FARDC and M23 have been fighting around
Mutaho, Kibati and Munigi, on the outskirts of Goma. Already hundreds
of thousands have been displaced in North Kivu and tens of thousands
more have fled across the border to Rwanda and Uganda. Humanitarian
agencies fear that clashes between FIB and M23 could cause further
civilian suffering. [
urges the UN Peacekeeping force to proceed with the utmost caution as
it enforces their call for disarmament and to ensure that civilians
are adequately protected from any ensuing violence," Tariq
Riebl, Oxfam's DRC humanitarian programme coordinator, said in a 31
July statement [
"The removal of so many arms that have been used to
terrorize civilians in the area should help reduce the appalling
levels of human suffering but the UN must ensure that its operations
do not make a bad situation much worse."
Frontières (MSF) [
] has expressed concern about MONUSCO's offensive mandate and the
blurring of lines between humanitarian and military action. In a
letter, Bertrand Perrochet, head of mission for MSF in DRC, urged
MONUSCO not to deploy troops around its health facilities lest the
safety of patients and staff be impaired.
however, that its mandate is not contradictory, and according to the
media, spokesman Manodge Monoubai said the UN mission could not "fold
our arms and allow armed groups to kill the population". [
The Congolese government has welcomed the establishment of
the zone and the ultimatum. For its part, M23, which is not at
present within the security zone, has denounced [
] MONUSCO's actions.
"We [will] stay within the area
assigned us after retreating from Goma" M23's president,
Bertrand Bisimwa, told IRIN. M23 briefly occupied Goma in DRC, and
was ordered to withdraw during negotiations in Kampala brokered by
the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), which
has been mediating in so far unsuccessful talks between the rebels
and the government.
Analysts say the success of the FIB will
be dependent on how it responds to threats and how it deals with the
local population. "The intervention brigade can be a force for
good; however, it is crucial for it to interact with local
populations in a transparent and open manner," said Rémy
Kasindi, director of DRC think tank CRESA.
Others are more
sceptical of MONUSCO's ability to protect Goma and its population.
"Prior to M23's capture of Goma, we heard similar announcements
and afterwards the city was taken over by the rebel movement,"
Ley Uwera, a Goma-based journalist, told IRIN, expressing concern
about the delay in the FIB deployment - the brigade was expected to
be fully operational by the end of July.
groups are likely to seek to avoid direct confrontation with the
Intervention Brigade," Fred Robarts a former coordinator of the
UN Group of Experts on DRC, told IRIN, noting that "yet more
displacement seems inevitable as a result of future offensive
"Most obviously, humanitarian actors will
have to continue carefully to manage the need to coordinate with the
peacekeepers while guarding their neutrality and independence. Much
depends on [the FIB] establishing credibility at this early stage,
and it remains to be seen how firmly the new brigade will respond
when first tested."
Chantal Daniels, Great Lakes policy
adviser for Christian Aid, told IRIN that within the aid community,
there is "hope [that] the security zone is a first step in a
wider PoC [Protection of Civilians] and security approach".
the military manoeuvres, a shaky peace process continues, with ICGLR
heads of state recently meeting in Nairobi and reiterating their
support for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC
] signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February.
However, on the
sidelines of the ICGLR summit, diplomats privately told IRIN that
many felt MONUSCO's ultimatum had dented the chances of a peaceful
resolution to the crisis, sentiments also expressed by Rwanda, [
] which has been accused of supporting M23, a charge it strenuously
CRESA's Kasindi stressed that "the Congolese
government, as well as other regional actors [must] assume a prime
responsibility for what happens in the Kivu provinces."
happens militarily, without strong political commitment it might lead
to more tensions... especially if disarmament calls are not
complemented by a new DDR [disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration] approach," said Christian Aid's Daniels.
[END] This report online:
multiple displacements making people more vulnerable
1 August 2013 (IRIN) - Since 2012 an estimated one million people
have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC)
eastern provinces of South and North Kivu, major ethnic and political
flashpoints in the country.
However, for many of DRC's over
two million internally displaced persons (IDPs), it is not the first
time they are being uprooted from their homes. Multiple displacements
have become a feature of the past two decades in DRC and, as the
violence escalates, things do not look like improving any time
"Multiple displacements are a significant problem
in the DRC. Most of the IDPs we spoke to in North Kivu had been
forced to flee their homes at least twice, and many others told us of
having to flee from one camp to another with each new wave of
violence. In many ways, the longer a person is displaced and the more
times they have to flee, the more vulnerable they become,"
Caelin Briggs, Great Lakes advocate at international NGO Refugees
International, told IRIN.
A 2013 report [
] by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) found that in some places,
65 percent of those interviewed had been displaced at least twice,
while a further 37 percent had been uprooted more than three times as
a result of violence.
According to official UN figures, there
are more than 900,000 IDPs in North Kivu; just 148,772 of them live
in the 31 official camps run by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
who spoke with IRIN said they preferred staying in sites nearer to
their homes from where they can monitor the situation and more easily
assess the possibility of returning home.
"You just hope
the war will end and [that you can] go back to farm and feed your
family. When you are far from home, you don't know what the situation
is," said Xavier, 31, who lives in Mugunga 1, a spontaneous
(makeshift) site run by the International Organization for
"At times when you go back home, you stay
three days and they [the rebels] attack again and you have to run,"
Analysts say the repeated displacements are
exacerbated both by the continuing ethnic and political violence and
the inability of the DRC administration to protect citizens.
the absence of physical security or rule of law provided by the
state, further strains on social cohesion stem from the broader
instability that has seen communities resort to using local defence
militia which are typically established along village - and therefore
frequently ethnic - lines," said the authors of the NRC
In November 2012, for instance, Kanyaruchinya, a camp
hosting an estimated 50,000 people emptied within hours when violence
broke out around Goma after people fled fearing for their safety,
while in late February and March 2013 UNHCR reported that thousands
of IDPs fled their sites to the UN peacekeepers' base in the town of
Kitchanga following clashes between the DRC army and armed
are always on the run"
Mutambo, 45, who comes from Mutaho, a farming village some 13km north
of Goma told IRIN how he was displaced during the country's first war
in 1996. Since then, he has had to run for his life eight times. On
one occasion he had to escape from a camp when violence broke out,
fearing those from his ethnic community would be targeted.
was displaced in 1996 when [Laurent] Kabila was fighting to overthrow
Mobutu's government. I thought there would be peace when he took
power, but since then I have fled my home eight times to live here
[in a camp]," he said.
Today Mutambo lives in Mugunga
III, a UNHCR managed site on the outskirts of Goma. He has lived
there for a year.
"Running away from your home only gives
you safety at that time. But also in places where you seek refuge,
violence can break out between different ethnic communities and you
have to escape again. In Congo, you are always on the run,"
sites more risky?
like Briggs of Refuges International say those living in spontaneous
sites face greater risks.
"People in spontaneous
settlements are more vulnerable for two reasons: first, spontaneous
settlements are often located in highly insecure areas. These sites
are frequently a mid-way point between people's hometowns and the
official camps, where people choose to settle to be able to monitor
the security at their homes and go back and forth as needed to find
food. Given this, the spontaneous sites are often closer to the
frontlines of the violence and, as such, place IDPs in greater
Aid agencies told IRIN repeated displacements
had created a challenge in terms of keeping track of the number of
IDPs and providing them with humanitarian assistance.
have been displaced many times and it is making it very difficult to
have a verifiable number of those who have been displaced. At times
this creates even a challenge in registration of the IDPs, and aid
agencies find it hard to offer assistance because of the constant
movements," said Mikala Gloria Ramazani, an external relations
associate with UNHCR.
said that even in UNHCR-run camps such as Mugunga III, people are
still vulnerable to attack. The agency no longer pays Congolese
police to guard the camps as a result of resource constraints, and
the government does not provide any protection.
official camps managed by UNHCR are relatively safer and their
services better, people can still face insecurity because the police
are not there. MONUSCO [UN Stabilization Mission in DRC] does patrol
the camps but only intermittently," she said.
to one aid worker, repeated displacement in North and South Kivu will
continue unless the government can take charge of the
"People keep on moving because the violence is
spreading even to areas where people had sought refuge. The
government is lacking and the government security forces are too
lethargic to act. They are busy looking for ways they can survive.
The government doesn't take care of them," he said.
people are unable to access their farms as a result of the conflict.
Aid agencies like the World Food Programme provide food to the
displaced and host communities but pipeline limitations have meant
they are unable to cope with demand.
"Those in need of
assistance as a result of the recurrent displacement are many. We are
offering food in seven spontaneous sites but we are only giving half
rations because we have little resources," Djaounsede Pardon, a
WFP public information officer in Goma, told IRIN.
army has since pushed back the M23 rebels - one of the many militia
operating in the region - and the 3,000-strong UN Intervention
] is expected to swing into action soon, but the security situation
in Congo's vast eastern region remains precarious.
This report online:
"weaker than it has been in at least 20 years"
1 August 2013 (IRIN) - Joseph Kony is losing his grip on the fighters
of his rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), with many wanting to
defect, according to a new report by The Resolve LRA Crisis
Initiative, an US-based advocacy group.
According to the
report, Loosening Kony's Grip: Effective Defection Strategies for
Today's LRA [
], many LRA combatants in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are increasingly disillusioned by
the leadership's failure to maintain contact with the increasingly
fragmented group and by the difficulty of life in remote rainforests
far from home, made worse by pressure from Ugandan military forces
and US military advisers operating in the region. Some are also
disenchanted with the group's recent shift towards forms of banditry,
including harvesting elephant ivory.
Resistance Army is likely weaker than it has been in at least 20
years... and morale among the Ugandan combatants that comprise the
core of its force is at a new low," the authors
report says the LRA currently has an estimated 250 combatants -
including 200 Ugandans and 50 low-ranking fighters from CAR, DRC and
South Sudan - and another 250 dependents.
The authors suggest
that a campaign dubbed "Come Home" - a collaboration
between the Ugandan and US militaries that uses speakers mounted on
helicopters circling LRA-occupied areas as well as leaflets, radio
broadcasts and Safe Reporting Sites to encourage defection from the
LRA - would yield better results if it were conducted in more areas
where the group operates. According to the report, at least 31
Ugandan LRA combatants defected in 2012 and through the first six
months of 2013.
Kony and his fighters are thought to operate
in the border regions of CAR, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan; Uganda has
some 2,500 soldiers deployed around these areas under the auspices of
the African Union. In late 2011, the US deployed 100 special forces
to the region as military advisers to the effort.
apparent weakening of the LRA's internal cohesion, their long
tradition of holding civilian populations hostage to deter attacks,
and the historic failure of military operations to achieve a decisive
victory [suggest] that the most timely and cost-effective approach to
dismantling the LRA is to encourage increased defections," the
authors said. "The large majority of people in the LRA were
forcibly conscripted, and most, including many Ugandans, want to
Ugandan officials continue to encourage
defection from the LRA, promising defectors amnesty from prosecution;
an Amnesty Act [
] that lapsed in 2012 was reinstated in 2013. The Amnesty Act does
not extend to top LRA commanders.
"The amnesty law is
still there for those who are not indicted by ICC [International
Criminal Court [
] - Kony and three of his most senior commanders have been indicted
on several charges, including crimes against humanity and war
crimes]. We encourage them to abandon the rebellion and come out.
They are welcome back home," Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, Uganda
People's Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, told IRIN. "If they
have no fighters, they have no future."
He added, "The
hard-core ones like Kony and his top leadership can't surrender. We
have an AU [African Union] force there. We shall resume hunting them
once AU gets authorization from the new CAR authorities."
hunt for Kony was suspended following a coup in CAR [
] by the Séléka rebel group, which overran the capital, Bangui, on
24 March, putting President François Bozizé to flight and naming
Michel Djotodjia as the new head of state.
"There is need
to continue to encourage and persuade the LRA members to defect. Let
them abandon the rebellion and come back home. They are victims of
circumstances," retired bishop Baker Ochola, a member of Acholi
Religious Peace Initiative (ALPI), told IRIN. "Let them leave
LRA to Kony and his people who started it... Kony will remain alone
and will not have support."
Ochola warned that while the
LRA may be weaker, "they are still at large. They still pose a
challenge and are dangerous".
analysts feel that defection is an incomplete strategy to tackle the
"The LRA survival strategy is abduction, as
opposed to voluntary recruitment, and for every defectee, the LRA
abducts double the number to replenish its forces, which keeps the
insurgency in circles," Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and
governance analyst at Uganda's Makerere University Refugee Law
Project. "To suggest that the LRA can be dismantled from the
bottom-up through defection is a recognition of the failed
militaristic approach and an opportunity to call for resumption of
peace talks to find lasting solutions.
strategy to end the LRA conflict must engage top LRA leadership,
address its legacy, and deal with Uganda's own governance crisis to
find lasting peace," he added.
The authors of the report
said there was a need for better disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration strategy in order to increase the rate of defections,
noting that the future remained uncertain for people who chose to
defect, with "shamefully inadequate" reintegration
"Former abductees, particularly adults, must
often face the challenge of rebuilding livelihoods, overcoming
trauma, and coping with community stigmatization with little support.
Awareness of these difficulties, combined with the risks of attempted
escape, discourages many from defecting," the authors stated. "A
well-resourced and dynamic disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration (DDR) strategy could help break Kony's grip on the
rebel group, allow hundreds of abductees to peacefully return to
their families, and help keep civilians safer from further LRA
The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative recommended,
among other things, a broadened "Come Home" programme,
funding for comprehensive mapping of the LRA's command structure, and
better funding for organizations providing medical and psychosocial
assistance to returnees.
The LRA came into existence in the
late 1980s, and fought a lengthy and brutal war with the government
in northern Uganda for close to 20 years; for years, more than one
million people were forced to live in camps for internally displaced
people under terrible humanitarian conditions. The last LRA attacks
in Uganda were in 2006.
so/kr/rz [END] This report online:
abuses on both sides in DRC conflict
29 July 2013 (IRIN) - As fighting continues in North Kivu Province
between the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) army and the rebel
group M23, both sides have been accused of committing human rights
abuses against each other and civilians, some of which amount to war
crimes, according to rights groups.
Earlier this year, Human
Rights Watch (HRW) reported the M23 rebel movement in eastern DRC had
committed war crimes [
]; a second major report by HRW, released 22 July, finds M23's war
crimes have continued [
Summarizing the report's findings, lead author Ida Sawyer
told IRIN: "What we've documented is that war crimes committed
by M23 fighters have continued since March, and those crimes include
summary executions of at least 44 people, and rapes of at least 61
women and girls, and forced recruitment of scores of young men and
Meanwhile, HRW, a report of the UN
Secretary-General and other sources allege the Congolese army has
also committed abuses, ranging from the desecration of corpses to
mass rape and the killing of civilians.
The M23 rebellion [
] began in April 2012, with the DRC army and M23 clashing
intermittently since then. The most recent spate of violence began on
14 July in areas around Mutaho, Kanyarucinya, Kibati and in the
mountains near Ndosho, a few kilometres from Goma, the provincial
capital. M23 currently controls the areas of Rutshuru and
The group came into existence when hundreds of
mainly ethnic Tutsi soldiers of the Congolese army mutinied over poor
living conditions and poor pay. Most of the mutineers had been
members of the National Congress for the Defence of the People
(CNDP), another armed group that in 2009 signed a deal with the
government, which the dissidents felt Kinshasa had not fully
a September 2012 report on M23, HRW accused the group of deliberately
killing at least 15 civilians since June and of executing 33 of its
In its latest report, the group alleges that
15 civilians were killed by M23 over two days in April, and a further
six were killed in June in reprisals for alleged collaboration with
It says other civilians killed by the
movement included a man who refused to hand his sons over to the
rebels, a motorcycle driver who refused to give them money, and
recruits caught trying to escape. It also reports that M23 tortured
prisoners of war, including two who were killed.
HRW did not
include any comments or reactions from M23 in its latest
Sawyer said her organization had arranged to interview
M23 leader Sultani Makenga about its findings, but fighting broke out
on the day of the interview. Makenga cancelled and was subsequently
unavailable for a phone interview, Sawyer said.
IRIN, M23 spokesman Kabasha Amani said: "When Human Rights Watch
says people have disappeared in the territory we control, why doesn't
it give the names of those people?"
He dismissed the
findings as rumours, describing the DRC as "a country of
A lawyer working with M23, John Muhire, said
that since the NGO has not given names of victims or the precise
location of the supposed crimes, "they don't mention anything
which really can be a proof that the crime has been
Muhire accused a Congolese NGO that carried
out field work for HRW of being biased against M23, adding that the
rebel group had asked for a "neutral" investigation
supervised by the UN.
HRW and other sources report that M23
has threatened to kill people who speak out against the movement; the
organization does not name victims or precise locations of crimes to
protect sources from possible harm.
The report has also been
criticized by Rwanda - accused by Human Rights Watch of supporting
M23, a charge Rwanda has denied - for wrongly stating that Rwandan
soldiers had served with the peacekeeping contingent in Somalia. HRW
published a correction but stood by its findings.
very confident with our findings," Sawyer told IRIN. "What
we've included in our report is only the information that we have
confirmed with several credible witnesses. We rely on information
from eyewitnesses who were present during the events - victims and
witnesses to abuses. We do very in-depth interviews with all the
people we speak to, to document this, and we don't include
information that we think may be biased."
As an example
of information not included, Sawyer cited a claim by the UN
Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) that M23 had executed 26
farmers in two localities between June 16 and 19, allegations for
which the NGO could not find sufficient evidence.
abuses by DRC army and others
was the main focus of the report, which deals exclusively with abuses
within the zone that M23 tried to control and with evidence of
Rwandan support for the group.
But M23 is not the only armed
group operating within this zone, and the report includes a brief
mention of abuses - three people killed and four raped - by another
armed group, the Popular Movement for Self-Defence (Mouvement
populaire d'autodéfense or MPA) in the same area since March.
also notes that, according to the UN Group of Experts on Congo,
Congolese army personnel have recently supplied ammunition to the
Rwandan rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda
(FDLR), which HRW says has long been committing "horrific
abuses" against civilians in eastern DRC.
press release accompanying the HRW report referred to Congolese army
soldiers treating "the corpses of M23 fighters killed in combat
on July 16 in a degrading manner, stripping them, making ethnic
slurs, and prodding their genitals with weapons", an incident
seen in widely circulated photos. The press release also refers to
allegations the army harshly treated M23 combatants captured in
On 17 July, the army arrested a lieutenant in
connection with the desecration of the M23 fighters' corpses.
Olivier Hamuli, a DRC army spokesman, said the army condemned such
behaviour, and added that the incident should be seen in context, as
the actions of men suffering from "combat stress".
UN Secretary-General's latest report on MONUSCO includes further
references to abuses by Congolese army units in recent months. It
highlights a mass rape, allegedly of more than 200 women, by
Congolese troops at Minova, in South Kivu, in November 2012, and the
killing of at least 27 civilians and the wounding of 89 others in
clashes between the army and an armed group at Kitchanga, in North
Kivu, in late February and early March.
UN and local sources
told IRIN that most of the deaths at Kitchanga were attributable to
the army's use of heavy weapons in a town centre. The army unit
involved was led by a colonel who had fought alongside M23 leaders in
a previous rebellion and was alleged to be still in alliance with
A recent bombing raid by Congolese army aircraft against
an M23 military camp at Rumangabo also caused several civilian
casualties, according to M23. The UN noted that M23 caused several
civilian casualties in Goma when its shells landed in a displaced
people's camp and other locations in the city suburbs in May and
again this month.
within MONUSCO commented that reporting of human rights abuses in DRC
is uneven, tending to focus on more accessible areas and on groups -
like M23 - which are considered to be a regional threat to
Alleged abuses by other armed groups and by some units
of the Congolese army may be under-reported compared to those
attributed to M23. Complaints in December and January by a civil
society organization in Tongo, North Kivu, alleging that an army unit
there had been responsible for 93 rapes and eight murders over a
six-month period have still not elicited an official response;
MONUSCO could give no details of its investigation into these
Nevertheless, the Congolese army has suspended 12
senior officers and arrested 11 suspects in connection with the mass
rapes at Minova. Nationally, the proportion of alleged rights abuses
by the army that lead to prosecution has been increasing in the past
Figures from MONUSCO show between July 2010 and
July 2011, there were 224 convictions of DRC military personnel or
police for serious human rights abuses (about half involving sexual
violence), a big increase over previous years.
recently claimed to have appointed criminal investigators in its
territory and to be carrying out trials, has yet to announce the
results of any investigations of alleged abuses by its personnel. In
reality, says MONUSCO, M23 has no real capacity to hold trials as
there are no magistrates in its zone.
Civilians told IRIN
that, in some cases, people accused of crimes by the rebels had
already been put on trial. Some of them had been imprisoned, one
civilian said, speaking just out of earshot of an M23
"And some of them were killed," he added
Another civilian said: "Those who are arrested
and can pay a fine can be freed. As for those who can't pay a fine,
they can be put on forced labour or killed."
900,000 people are displaced in North Kivu, more than half of them by
the M23 rebellion; tens of thousands more have fled across the DRC's
borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
nl/kr/rz [END] This report
Ugandan rebel group "recruiting, training"
11 July 2013 (IRIN) - The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan
rebel movement based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
is recruiting, training and reorganizing to carry out fresh attacks
on Uganda, officials say.
"The threat is real. ADF is
recruiting, training and opening new camps in eastern DRC. We are
alert and very prepared to deal with any attack on our side of the
border," said Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the Uganda
People's Defence Forces (UPDF). "We are sharing intelligence
information with the DRC government [and] FARDC [DRC's national army]
about their activities. We hope FARDC will be able to deal with the
According to media reports in DRC [
], early on Thursday morning the group clashed with FARDC in Kamango,
a town in North Kivu Province close to the Ugandan border, briefly
ousting the army before withdrawing. Uganda's NTV tweeted that
thousands of Congolese had fled across the border to the western
Ugandan town of Bundibugyo.
The ADF was formed in the
mid-1990s in the Rwenzori mountain range in western Uganda, close to
the country's border with DRC. The group killed hundreds in several
attacks in the capital, Kampala, and in parts of western Uganda, and
caused the displacement of tens of thousands. The rebellion was
largely contained in Uganda by 2000, with reportedly just about 100
fighters finding refuge in eastern North Kivu. From the mid-1990s
till 2007, ADF was allied to another Ugandan rebel group, the
National Army for the Liberation of Uganda; together, becoming
The ADF's leader, Jamil Mukulu, a former Catholic,
converted to Islam in the 1990s, and the Ugandan government has long
claimed the group is linked with Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda
and the Somali militant group Al-Shabab. The US placed the ADF on its
list of terrorist organizations in 2001.
UPDF's Ankunda said:
"There is no doubt; ADF has a linkage with Al-Shabab. They
collaborate. They have trained ADF on the use of improvised explosive
to Ankunda, the ADF - now thought to have up to 1,200 fighters - has
tried to increase its troop numbers through kidnapping and
recruitment in North Kivu Province and in Uganda.
is worrying us is that the ADF has been carrying out a series of
abductions, recruitment and attacks in DRC without much resistance
from FARDC," Ankunda told IRIN. "We are critically
following up their recruitment in Uganda. We have made some
According to a December 2012 report by the
International Crisis Group (ICG) [
], the ADF is "more of a politically convenient threat for both
the FARDC and the Ugandan government than an Islamist threat lurking
at the heart of Central Africa".
"They are still
isolated, and actions against their logistic and financial chains
have been quite successful," Marc-Andre Lagrange, DRC senior
analyst at ICG, told IRIN. "As in 2011, ADF are now engaged in
providing military support to other armed groups to sustain their
movement. This demonstrates that ADF, as such, is now a limited
threat despite the fact they remain extremely violent."
to experts in Uganda, the continued presence of armed groups like ADF
is a major concern for peace and stability in DRC, Uganda and the
wider Great Lakes region.
"The allegations that ADF is
regrouping are not new and should not come as a surprise. What should
worry us as a country is the apparent collective amnesia of treating
our own exported armed insurgencies as other people's problems,"
Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at
Uganda's Makerere University's Refugee Law Project, told IRIN. "The
LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] and ADF are Uganda's problems and will
remain so, no matter where they are located at a particular time,
until we seek a comprehensive solution to conflicts in this
the moment, Uganda has no mandate to pursue the rebels within DRC.
Ankunda said he hoped the new UN Intervention Brigade [
] - tasked with defeating "negative forces" in eastern DRC
and due to be fully operational at the end of July - will step in to
curb the group's efforts to destabilize the two countries.
ICG's report warned that it would be important to neutralize the
ADF's cross-border economic and logistical networks; the group
allegedly receives money transfers from Kenya, the UK and Uganda,
which are collected by Congolese intermediaries in the North Kivu
cities of Beni and Butembo. It also derives funding from car and
motorcycle taxis in North Kivu and profits from gold and timber
exports to Uganda.
"It would be wise to separate fiction
from fact and instead pursue a course of weakening its socio-economic
base, while at the same time offering a demobilization and
reintegration programme to its combatants," the report's authors
stated, adding that "Congolese and Ugandan military personnel
colluding with these networks should be dealt with appropriately by
the authorities of their country".
Makerere's Oola, Uganda needs to do some soul-searching if it is to
defeat the rebellions that continue to destabilize the country: "We
must sit down as country in judgment of oursel[ves], through
truth-seeking and national dialogue, to ask the right questions. Why
are they fighting? What should be done to end their rebellion? How do
we address the impact of the cycle of violence that has bedevilled
this country from independence?"
so/kr/rz [END] This
North Kivu sees fresh clashes as peace talks stall in
18 July 2013 (IRIN) - Fresh fighting between the rebel M23 and the
army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the eastern
province of North Kivu could spell the end of efforts to reach a
negotiated settlement to the conflict, analysts say.
what have been described as some of the deadliest clashes since the
rebellion began in April 2012, FARDC (the DRC army) and M23 have been
fighting since 14 July in areas around Mutaho, Kanyarucinya, Kibati
and in the mountains near Ndosho, a few kilometres from Goma, the
An estimated 900,000 people are displaced
in North Kivu, more than half of them by the M23 rebellion; [
] tens of thousands more have fled across the DRC's borders with
Rwanda and Uganda. Humanitarians continue to flag the issue of
civilian protection in and around Goma, where fighting over the past
year has displaced more than 100,000.
IRIN has put together a
briefing on recent developments in the talks and the
happening with the Kampala talks?
new round of peace talks [
] between the two sides in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, has stalled,
with Raymond Tshibanda, the DRC foreign minister and head of the
government delegation, and Apollinaire Malu Malu, his deputy, absent
from the venue.
The talks, which kicked off in December
2012 under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great
Lakes Region (ICGLR), first broke down in April: M23 representatives
walked out following a decision by the UN to deploy an intervention
brigade to neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC.
two sides are still extremely far apart in their negotiating
positions and a compromise is difficult to envision without hefty
intervention by diplomats. So fighting is almost inevitable, even if
only to improve negotiating positions," Jason Stearns, director
of the Rift Valley Institute's (RVI), Usalama Project, [
] which conducts research on armed groups in eastern DRC.
Kampala talks are moribund. I can't envision a deal acceptable to the
M23 that foreign diplomats and the Congolese government could sign
off on; the M23 would have to disband and reintegrate into the
national army, which its leaders will find difficult to stomach, as
they don't trust the government."
Each side accuses
the other of not being sufficiently committed to reaching a
diplomatic settlement to the conflict.
on whether M23 is ready to accept on what has been decided in Addis
Ababa and [with] UN for them to disarm. If they accept, we are ready
to finalize the Kampala process," DRC government spokesperson
Lambert Mende Omalanga told IRIN by phone.
February, 11 African countries signed a Peace, Security and
Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region, aimed at, among
other things, improving security and consolidating the state's
authority in eastern DRC.
are the accusations being traded?
Omalanga accused Rwanda of continued influence over M23, a charge
both the Rwandan government and M23 strenuously deny.
is not interested in the talks, but a military option. We have been
here seeking for a bilateral ceasefire. But government has since
refused and prepared for the ongoing war," Rene Abandi, the head
of M23's delegation, told IRIN. "It's playing double
standards... trying both methods - peace talks and military
Abandi added that until the head of the
government delegation or his deputy arrived, M23 would not negotiate,
and called on the ICGLR, the African Union and the UN to put pressure
on Kinshasa to actively participate in the talks.
before the resumption of fighting, the Kampala peace talks have had a
bleak future. Over the course of the last seven months, the warring
parties have employed deliberate delaying tactics, militaristic
bluster and traded fierce accusations of foul play as a means of
furthering narrow political agendas," Timo Mueller, Goma-based
field researcher for the Enough Project, [
] which fights genocide and crimes against humanity, told IRIN. "As
the fighting rekindled on Sunday [14 July], some analysts see a
direct relationship between the deadlock in Kampala and the renewed
fighting. But while the fighting is a near-death experience for the
talks, both parties have an interest in keeping the talks alive so as
to be seen as willing to seek political peace, albeit crippled they
He added: "The rhetoric and actions
of the Congolese army reflect a consistent strategy to pursue only
military confrontation with M23 on the battlefield and forego any
existing political efforts. But while military actions undermine and
contradict the talks, Congo has no interest in unilaterally
withdrawing from an initiative strongly favoured by the international
"M23, will desperately hold onto the talks to
present itself as a grievance-driven group eager to discuss political
reforms with Kinshasa and because it is too weak militarily to
advance its interests outside political avenues. The talks offer the
only existing avenue for M23 to deliver agreement on amnesty for
senior leadership and military reintegration into FARDC, something
that the UN PSCF [the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework] or
any other international process would be unlikely to yield. Both
parties will remain at loggerheads for the foreseeable future,
leaving scant hope for a genuine peace agreement."
fighting spur talks?
to Thierry Vircoulon, an analyst with the think tank International
Crisis Group, "It may sound like a paradox but, for peace
negotiations to start, the balance of power on the ground must be
changed. The two parties will only negotiate if they lose on the
battlefield. Kinshasa accepted to come to the Kampala talks only
because it lost Goma last year and was dominated on the
But Usalama's Stearns says neither side is
keen to escalate the ongoing conflict. "The M23 is limited by
its troop numbers, which are probably still under 2,000, with a large
area to cover. For the Congolese army, they would probably want to
wait until the UN Intervention Brigade is fully operational, which
could take another month."
intervention brigade [
] mandated to "neutralize... and disarm" armed groups in
eastern DRC is due to be fully operational at the end of July. The UN
Stabilization Mission in DRC, MONUSCO, also intends to have unarmed
surveillance drones in eastern DRC to monitor developments.
much support is there for talks?
problem in eastern DRC is primarily political, and "no amount of
military power can solve it," Lt-Col Paddy Ankunda, Uganda army
spokesman and spokesman for the talks, told IRIN.
causes of the M23 rebellion and the wider conflict are a mesh of
political, socioeconomic and security factors. A political,
non-military solution is needed, including, amongst others, security
sector reform, democratization, decentralization, human development,
reform of the minerals sector and regional economic integration,"
said the Enough Project's Mueller. "The Kampala peace talks
should best be subsumed by the UN PSCF. It will also be critical to
get Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda together to start negotiations to deal
with economic and security issues that have been driving the
"[UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy
to the Great Lakes] Mary Robinson must also ensure that the Congolese
reform process and national Congolese dialogue are mediated by an
impartial facilitator and have civil society directly at the table.
If the process is not neutral and inclusive, the reforms will fail,"
he added. "Another behind-the-door deal among elites will be
just another recipe for failure, likely brewing new dissent and
stoking a wholesale resurgence of violence."
eastern DRC, however, not everyone is keen on a peaceful solution to
the crisis. Kabila has repeatedly done deals with rebels as a way of
ending national and local conflicts, and has been criticized for this
by oppositionists, civil society and national media. "Give war a
chance" has been a popular refrain with many fierce critics of
there any unanimity on the ground?
think the government should crush the M23 rebellion," Thomas
d'Aquin Muiti, president of The Civil Society of North Kivu (an
association of NGOs working for better governance in the province),
told IRIN, although privately, some of his colleagues deplored his
Kabila's recent pursuit of the military
option against the M23 certainly appears to have the support of many
ordinary people in Goma. There were jubilant scenes on 15 July when
it was learned that FARDC had retaken a hill overlooking Goma from
which the rebels had threatened to target the airport. Crowds of men
waving leafy branches did victory runs on the outskirts of the town,
and rumours that MONUSCO was trying to block a further advance by the
army prompted angry demonstrations outside a UN base.
group of women who had been displaced by the fighting voiced strong
support for FARDC when asked by IRIN what they thought of its
offensive. "We will be very happy to see our village liberated
and we hope the army will do it," said 44-year-old Fouraha
Kanamu to a loud chorus of approval from the other women.
condemnation of M23 is not unanimous in Goma. Thousands gathered and
cheered the rebels after they briefly occupied the city in November
2012 and organized a rally in a stadium. Many of these people were
government employees who were hoping the M23 would pay them, but even
before the rebel takeover some citizens were quietly expressing
support for the movement.
"They can't be any worse
than those in power now," was the kind of comment heard from
some people, who would claim that the Rally for Congolese Democracy
(RCD) rebels - a Rwandan-backed movement that occupied eastern Congo
during DRC's second civil war (1998-2003) - had at least provided
better policing and road maintenance in Goma.
makes much of the DRC government's notorious corruption and
incompetence, but has never held any elections, and judging by the
electoral record of its predecessor movement, the CNDP (National
Congress for the Defence of the People, which won just one seat in
the 2011 national elections) would be unlikely to win many
However, M23's behaviour during the 10 days that
it controlled Goma alienated many erstwhile sympathizers. "They
plundered government offices, officials' houses and even a hospital,
so we saw they weren't really interested in better governance,"
said one civilian.
so/nl/kr/cb [END] This report online:
the gap between relief and development in DRC
26 June 2013 (IRIN) - Every year, for nearly two decades, the
humanitarian community has responded to large-scale and complex
crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This year, on the
assumption that the crises are likely to continue, donors have agreed
to fund longer-term and more flexible humanitarian projects in
For the first time, a common humanitarian fund (CHF)
administered by the UN in Kinshasa will be financing projects of up
to 24 months' duration, instead of the current 12-month limit. [
A review of the project proposals should be finalized in
July; this year, the CHF hopes to receive US$70 million for
multi-year funding (out of an $893 million humanitarian appeal for
Multi-year funding is an innovation for the
humanitarian system, said Gemma Cortes, interim head of the UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' (OCHA) financing unit
"We're initiating this in the Congo,"
she told IRIN. "There's been a big discussion about this for
years here. Now, the great challenge will be to link all the projects
to development projects."
says these "transitional" projects "will address
recurrent humanitarian needs that require sustainable interventions
of a kind that help[s] build community resilience" and will
"reduce the number of short-term emergency actions that respond
more to symptoms than to causes".
Other projects funded
with the $70 million "will reinforce emergency response
capability" and "help build national NGOs' capacity".
OCHA also foresees better data collection and monitoring, and well as
"It should help to save costs on, for
example, transport, recruitment, training and assimilation [of
knowledge]," Cortes says.
The CHF is also considering
streamlining programmes. For example, it could fund two organizations
to do the kind of work done previously by eight separate, shorter
Cortes sees a trend in project proposals towards
greater promotion of agriculture and livelihoods, as well more
durable solutions to water and hygiene needs.
is one of the sectors where the envelope has increased the most.
Agencies and NGOs can now go beyond emergency activities to
reinforcing capacities, introducing different agricultural and
food-processing techniques, doing market studies and training
cooperatives. We have also received a lot of proposals for buying and
distributing goats, sheep and rabbits."
that around 15 percent of the multi-year funding might go to
agricultural projects and 30 percent to livelihoods projects,
although the final allocation has yet to be decided.
been very well received by aid workers, NGOs and by local
communities. It was something lacking before. Each time we came and
did the same thing, and they wanted something more lasting."
Kalis, protection and advocacy manager for the Norwegian Refugee
Council (NRC) in Goma, eastern DRC, agrees but suggests there is
still debate over what is "more lasting".
we have short-term cycles only, people end up doing the same things,
so it's very good that the CHF is now offering 24-month cycles. But a
lot more work needs to be done to understand what resilience means in
this context," Kalis said
the concept of resilience [
] has been mainstreamed in aid agency circles, its definition has
Christophe Béné, a research fellow at the UK
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), spoke at a recent IDS seminar
about how the term has evolved. "Initially," he said,
"resilience was simply about the capacity for recovery and
bouncing back. And now, with time passing, we have got more and more
people saying resilience is about learning and adapting. Recently,
now, we have got anticipating and preventing
Incorporating all of these meanings, a recent
definition from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said
resilience is "the ability to avoid disasters and crises or to
anticipate, absorb, adapt to and recover from risks. in a timely and
The UN World Food Programme's
coordinator in eastern DRC, Wolfram Herfurth, says resilience
basically means self-reliance, and he suggests a practical way to
ensure vulnerable communities are self-reliant.
not make this a rocket science. We have to provide simple, palatable
livelihood options for people in camps. Since we know that about 85
percent of these displaced people are farmers, it's logical - we're
looking at the closest solution - to provide farmers with tools and
seeds so they can produce their own food and no longer need free
handouts," he said.
"That is the fundamental
approach. But the biggest obstacle is that, where the displaced
people are now, there's mostly no free land available."
this end, Herfurth proposes that agreements be struck with landowners
to allocate land, either long-term or temporarily, to the displaced,
who would then be assisted with seeds, tools and food aid until their
Several initiatives in North Kivu are aiming to
help the displaced gain access to land, either their own (many
displaced people return home to find their land occupied) or land
where they have found refuge. The CHF has a brief to support these
Still, land is a delicate issue; NRC and UN
Habitat have the biggest land dispute mediation programmes in DRC,
but there are strict limits to what they can achieve, says NRC's
"The scale [of mediation] is very small in
comparison with the problem. A lot of these disputes are over just a
few metres of land. Once the military are involved, our commissions
[local committees set up by NRC] can't deal with that - it's too
dangerous," he said.
Large tracts of land in the Kivus
are owned by senior army officers.
"We need to talk about
political solutions [to the land problem]," says Kalis. "Donors
need to push for these things."
displaced people farm is not the only resilience-building activity
aid workers are proposing.
IRIN also interviewed the UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF), Oxfam, NRC and Catholic Relief Services and
found a wide range of resilience activities proposed, notably
information campaigns to help the displaced secure their rights and
access aid, and the construction of more durable facilities to help
them integrate with host communities.
project proposals to build more durable classrooms and sanitation
systems. NRC spoke of its work helping displaced children enrol in
schools. Oxfam said it was planning to extend water systems and
sanitation in host community areas.
The emphasis on host
communities is essential, aid workers say, because most aid has been
focused on camps even though most displaced people live with host
families and will often settle in those communities.
of the displaced are highly unlikely to go home," said Tariq
Riebl, Oxfam's coordinator in North Kivu. "If you look at the
history of Goma, many camps have been transformed into neighbourhoods
- we find it quite negative that the state is still bulldozing
"If we see a willingness by the state to
give the displaced residency rights, we could start to provide
schooling, health centres, etc. But the government is resisting
this," he said.
There is also a trend towards focusing on
more urban areas. In peri-urban areas where the state does not own
land, it may need to deal with landowners to ensure displaced people
can find homes, Riebl said.
Focusing aid on more easily
accessible areas rather than trying to reach remote villages is also
pragmatic, he points out.
"The support costs of trying to
run projects in an area like Walikale [one of North Kivu's more
remote territories] are enormous. No one is going to pay for all the
land cruisers. Donors are looking for value for money."
is also a serious concern for projects in rural areas. A worker with
FAO told a recent journalists' seminar in Goma that agricultural
project workers could not do anything if there was not
More business surveys will be needed to help guide
the displaced towards viable livelihoods, in either urban or rural
areas, Herfurth told IRIN.
"We need more development
experts," he said. "Maybe the number of relief workers here
should shrink and the number of economists and agricultural engineers
should increase," he said.
"But we also need to
change the chemistry between the humanitarians and the DRC government
to agree that - given there's more stability and peace - we focus on
more durable interventions.
"Certainly the humanitarians
themselves cannot easily do this alone. They need decisions by the
government and coordination at village and provincial level.
Different political levels need to play together."
[END] This report online:
Kampala talks set to resume
20 June 2013 (IRIN) - Delegates representing the government of the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rebel M23 are back in
Kampala, Uganda, for a fresh round of peace talks, but analysts say
that unless both sides are fully committed to the negotiations, a
political solution to the crisis in the DRC's North Kivu Province [
] is unlikely.
The talks, which kicked off in December 2012
under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes
Region (ICGLR), broke down in April; M23 representatives walked out
following a decision by the UN to deploy an intervention brigade to
neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC. The UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations says the 3,069-strong force, comprising
troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, should be fully
operational by mid-July. The force has been given a more forceful
mandate than any previous military contingent with a UN peacekeeping
"The representatives of both delegations are
back here in Kampala. The talks will be resuming any time. We hope
there will be commitment by both teams this time round," Crispus
Kiyonga, the chief mediator and Uganda's Minister of Defence, told
IRIN. "We shall be working towards the signing of the peace
agreement. But how soon it will be reached depends on the progress
and commitment of both parties. The fact that both parties keep
coming and going back shows some commitment."
On a recent
visit to DRC, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon [
] and his special envoy to the region, former Irish President Mary
Robinson, urged both parties to remain committed to the
An estimated 900,000 people are
displaced in North Kivu, more than half of them by the M23 rebellion;
tens of thousands more have fled across the DRC's borders with Rwanda
and Uganda. Humanitarians continue to flag the issue of civilian
protection even as the DRC national army (FARDC) and M23 engage in
intermittent battles in and around the provincial capital Goma, where
fighting over the past year has displaced more than 100,000.
May [ http://www.unhcr.org/519ce44b6.html
], four days of fighting between the government and the rebels saw
thousands flee their homes for overcrowded camps on the outskirts of
regional analysts are suspicious of M23's return to
"The M23's return to the negotiation table
should be seen first and foremost as a PR [public relations]
manoeuvre. The movement wants to show that it is seeking peace by all
means," said Michel Thill, Great Lakes Region programme manager
at Rift Valley Institute (RVI). "Its demands, however, are well
beyond what Kinshasa would agree to negotiate with what they consider
terrorists - the M23 knows that.
"The tensions are
mounting between the M23, the FARDC and the civil population in North
Kivu, in the face of repetitive claims by UN senior officials and the
Secretary-General himself that the international brigade will be
deployed in mid-July," he added. "The renewed fighting in
late May just before Ban Ki-Moon's visit to Goma proves this."
analysts see it differently: "The return from M23 to the
negotiation table is a sign from M23 and its external support they
want to solve the crisis politically. M23 does not receive the same
support as in November 2012 and is no longer in a position to take
Goma or conduct an aggressive war," said Marc-Andre Lagrange,
DRC senior analyst for the think tank International Crisis Group
(ICG). "Another question is how strong the M23 really is at the
moment. There are rumours that Sultani Makenga [M23's military
leader] is seriously ill and weak... It remains to be seen if the
movement stands up to the current pressure."
representatives deny that Makenga is unwell. They also accuse the DRC
government of lacking the will to negotiate a peaceful solution to
the crisis in North Kivu, and of preparing FARDC and its allies for
further clashes in the region.
"We have to seize this
opportunity of the international community's commitment to end this
rebellion through dialogue. The military option can't end the
conflict," Rene Abandi, the head of M23's Kampala delegation,
In a 13 June letter to Special Envoy Robinson, the
rebels accused the government of refusing to negotiate at the Kampala
peace talks and of preparing for further conflict in North Kivu,
claims government officials have denied.
allegations are baseless," Jean Charles Okoto Lulakombe, DRC
ambassador to Uganda, told IRIN. "Some members of the government
delegation are already here, and some are coming. We are determined
to end this conflict through dialogue. We believe it is only the
talks that can end this conflict, not military [methods]. We can't
continue to allow our people to suffer and die because of this
analysts agree that it will take more than peace talks - and even
peace agreements - to solve the problems in eastern DRC.
think a return to Kampala without a genuine commitment from both
sides to address the root causes of the conflict, reasons for
continuity and failures of past talks is a waste of time and money.
It's simply a peace joke," said Stephen Oola, a transitional
justice and governance analyst at Uganda's Makerere University's
Refugee Law Project.
"DRC needs more than just peace
talks. There is need for a shift in how the state fulfils its
obligation to citizens and how local resources are accessed and
utilized locally, nationally and internationally," he
"Anyone interested in returning peace to the DRC
should focus on strengthening the Congolese government, not
undermining it... There must be investment in ensuring that the
government in Kinshasa is both legitimate and strong enough to have
full control of its vast territory," said Nicholas Opiyo, a
Kampala-based legal and political analyst. "The internal
governance framework of the DRC must be re-engineered to be both
accommodative of the various interests in the DRC and meaningful to
the majority - if not all - Congolese."
solution for peace in the Kivus is not just political or only
military. Economic cooperation has to be put in place between the
countries of the Great Lakes," said RVI's Thill. "At the
same time, minorities have to be protected and land issues solved.
This can be achieved through politics."
This report online:
concerned about new DRC Intervention Brigade
31 May 2013 (IRIN) - Nineteen international NGOs have sent a joint
letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express concern over
the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and
future military operations by a new UN Intervention Brigade.
letter, dated 23 May and made public this week, asks the
secretary-general to call on the 11 African states that signed the
Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) in Addis Ababa in
February to implement the agreement, and to work with UN Special
Envoy for the Great Lakes Mary Robinson.
The letter also
recommends that the UN Security Council "should seriously
consider suspension of the [UN Intervention] Brigade if it does not
perform well or if the Congolese government does not make sufficient
progress in implementing its commitments under the PSCF"
The brigade of 3,069 troops from Tanzania, South
Africa and Malawi, which the UN peacekeeping department says should
be operational by mid-July, has been given a more offensive mandate [
] than any previous contingent with a UN peacekeeping mission. UN
Security Council Resolution 2098 empowers it to carry out "targeted
and robust offensives. with a view to neutralizing and disarming
armed groups", whilst "taking into account the necessity to
protect civilians and reduce risks".
The NGOs' letter
asks Ban for his leadership "in ensuring that the operations of
the Brigade. are clearly linked to the realization of the PSCF"
and that it "is part of a broad, comprehensive approach to
achieve long-term peace and stability".
The NGOs also
call on Ban to ensure that "planning and conduct of the
Brigade's operations prioritize mitigation of harm to civilians"
and to urge "the Congolese government. to put in place a fully
independent national oversight mechanism to oversee the
implementation of its commitments outlined in the PSCF".
this heading, the letter says "this should include local level
dialogue to address the local causes of conflict and community
grievances, as well as comprehensive Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration (DDR) options for combatants, irrespective of
During his visit to the North Kivu
provincial capital Goma on 23 May Ban made it clear that the UN does
not see the Brigade as the sole solution to eastern DRC's
"The Intervention Brigade will address all
this violence" he told local media, "and will try their
best to protect human lives, human rights and human dignity - but you
should also know that this is only one element of a much larger
process. I think a peace deal must deliver a peace dividend, health,
education, jobs and opportunity."
fear being linked with military action
of the concerns that prompted NGOs to write the letter was the
possible impact on their own work of future operations by the
Brigade, said Frances Charles, advocacy manager for NGO World Vision
(which sent the letter on behalf of the signatories).
issue of how the Brigade is related to the rest of the integrated
mission and how independent humanitarian actors such as NGOs relate
to MONUSCO is, I think, a very big issue.
"We have to
preserve independent humanitarian access. MONUSCO needs to make clear
to communities how all the different parts of the (UN) mission work
"One thing we are very concerned about, as
World Vision, is being linked to any military action. We are
independent and we want to make sure that our access to communities
versus offensive action
observers have questioned whether MONUSCO's existing role of
protecting civilians, particularly in displaced peoples' camps, will
be possible in areas where the Brigade attacks armed groups, as this
could result in retaliation against all UN military and civilian
personnel as well as against other aid workers and civilians.
interim head of MONUSCO's office in Goma, Alex Queval, told
journalists that all necessary precautions would be taken to ensure
that peacekeepers continue all their existing work, but he did not go
For its part the M23 rebel group [
] has suggested that the Brigade will need to work in different areas
to the other peacekeepers.
"It's a very complicated
situation for us," M23 spokesman Rene Abandi told IRIN this
week. "Blue helmets come with an offensive mandate while others
are deployed in the same areas with a peacekeepers' mandate. They
have really to separate areas so that we can make the
Speaking to the UN News Centre on 29 May,
the commander of the Intervention Brigade, Tanzanian Brig-Gen James
Aloizi Mwakibolwa, acknowledged there are fears among some observers
that the Brigade will exacerbate tensions.
expect collateral damage to the extent that several people are not
positive about the Brigade," he said.
"It should be
understood that our first concern should be the protection of
civilians as we take on the armed groups," he added. "A UN
peacekeeper is a person who must protect UN staff and UN property
but, above all, he must protect the civilians."
brigadier stressed that while he heads the brigade, he is not the
head of the UN force in the country. "We are part of MONUSCO and
our instructions come from the force commander of MONUSCO," he
groups support Brigade
society groups in Goma are generally supportive of the Intervention
Brigade and its offensive mandate.
"For the first time
people feel they can look forward to a better future - because the
new force has a mission to put an end to the armed groups," said
Goyon Milemba, team leader of the North Kivu civil society
association's working group on security issues, after the arrival of
the Brigade's headquarters staff in Goma last month.
people think you can protect civilians by stopping attacks on armed
groups, they are wrong. We need a lasting peace and that peace will
have to be imposed by striking hard against negative forces,"
the president of the North Kivu civil society association, Thomas
d'Aquin Muiti, told IRIN.
He acknowledged there would be
collateral damage but said the situation for the people in displaced
camps is intolerable.
"This does not mean MONUSCO should
stop protecting displaced people," he said. "Rather it
should reinforce protection."
He added that the
government should recognize it will have an additional responsibility
for protection as the Brigade starts offensive operations.
[END] This report online:
emergency needs in DRC
30 May 2013 (IRIN) - Humanitarian response in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) should broaden beyond emergency needs to encompass
underlying dynamics of conflict, according to a report [
] by the international refugee NGO Norwegian Refugee Council.
chronic and extreme violence in the eastern DRC poses a stark
challenge to traditional humanitarian 'urgent response mode'
approaches. The humanitarian service machinery has become a virtually
permanent fixture in the region, serving victims of multiple
displacements and repeating cycles of violence for two decades.
Protection in this conflict cannot be achieved solely by providing
services to victims," says the report.
For instance, it
argues that in the Kivus, which have borne the brunt of the conflict,
every community is at constant risk of conflict and displacement
"until military and armed-group violence against civilians is
brought under control."
"There are no 'durable
solutions' here without a change in the level of peace and stability,
and changes in the destructive behaviour of the armed parties towards
civilians," the report noted.
an interview with IRIN, Kyung wa-Kang, the deputy Emergency Relief
Coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), called for a "clear commitment from both
political leaders and the international community to improve
governance" and help bring "security and help achieve human
dignity in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the wider Great Lakes
The Congolese government has been accused of
only half-heartedly implementing peace agreements with rebel
"Rather than effectively implementing the 23
March 2009 peace agreement signed by the government and the CNDP
(National Council for the Defence of the People), the Congolese
authorities have instead only feigned the integration of the CNDP
into political institutions, and likewise the group appears to have
only pretended to integrate into the Congolese army,"
International Crisis Group, global think-tank, said in an
October briefing [
"The peace agreements that have been signed between
the government and rebel groups provides for a real opportunity to
push forward the agenda for lasting peace, but each party must be
serious in ensuring it works and they do their part in making this
fruitful," Kang added.
In February, 11 leaders signed a
UN-brokered peace accord aimed at ending the conflict in DRC and
bringing peace to the wider Great Lakes region. "The agreement
gives the people of eastern DRC their best chance in many years for
peace, human rights and economic development," UN Secretary
General Ban Ki Moon said during his recent visit to the region [
In March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution
setting up the first-ever UN peacekeeping brigade, whose mandate
would include battling rebel groups in DRC and monitoring an arms
embargo along with a panel of UN experts. It will observe and report
on the flows of military personnel, weapons and equipment across the
border of eastern Congo, including by surveillance aided by unmanned
Kang noted to IRIN, "Bringing lasting
peace in the DRC will involve deepening democracy" and engaging
all sides "involved the conflict", saying the recently
proposed 3,000-strong UN-backed intervention brigade should be seen
only as "a part of a wider puzzle."
long-running conflicts in eastern parts of DRC have forced more than
two million people to flee their homes. Thousands more have become
victims of violence and abuse. In the last six months, the number of
those displaced inside DRC increased by more than 150,000
people, with most of the displacements being in North Kivu Province.
The insecurity has further compelled an estimated 90,000 to flee into
Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda over the same period, according to OCHA [
The international community, the NRC report argues, "has
invested significantly in initiatives aimed at documenting protection
needs - information gathering and early warning systems,"
something OCHA's Kang says might be threatened by the increasing
crises in places like Syria, which continue to "suck donor
funding and receive greater humanitarian attention."
[END] This report online:
overstretching healthcare in DRC
20 May 2013 (IRIN) - Gaps in the healthcare system in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) are hampering the fight against malaria, a
leading killer of children, say experts.
Malaria accounts for
about a third of outpatient consultations in DRC clinics, Leonard
Kouadio, a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) health specialist, told IRIN.
He added, "It is the leading cause of death among children under
five years and is responsible for a significant proportion of deaths
among older children and adults."
"Recent retrospective mortality surveys have revealed that in
all regions of the country, the fever is associated with 40 percent
of [deaths of] children under five."
Malaria is also a
leading cause of school absenteeism in DRC, and it may have other
adverse effects. "In cases of severe malaria, children who
survive face serious health problems such as epilepsy, impaired
vision or speech," he said.
According to UN World Health
Organization (WHO) estimates [
], out of about 660,000 malaria deaths globally in 2010, at least 40
percent occurred in DRC and Nigeria.
In DRC, malaria accounts
for about half of all hospital consultations and admissions in
children younger than five, according to the government's National
Programme for the Fight against Malaria (NMCP). On average, Congolese
children under five years old suffer six to 10 episodes of malaria
per year, according to UNICEF's Kouadio.
Other leading causes
of death among under-five Congolese children include acute
respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition,
according to UNICEF's 2013-2017 DRC Country Programme Document.
deficient health system
"It is apparent that major
deficiencies in the health system have contributed to the severity of
recurrent outbreaks [of malaria]," Jan Peter Stellema, Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF) operational manager, told IRIN via email.
"Mosquito nets are not being sent to vulnerable areas,
and there are shortages of rapid diagnostic test [kits and] drugs and
the equipment for carrying out blood transfusions vital for children
suffering from anaemia caused by malaria."
problems include costly care and management challenges.
example, the treatment of an uncomplicated bout of malaria ranges
from about US$22 to $35, and treatment for severe cases can cost $75
to $100, according to NMCP. Such costs are prohibitive for a large
number of people, many of whom live on about one dollar a day.
DRC, the absence of other healthcare providers and overstretched
health systems leave people vulnerable to contracting malaria. Too
many health centres lack the supplies necessary for coping with a new
outbreak, and as a result children are dying because they did not
receive care for malaria," MSF's Stellema said.
to the DRC Country Programme Document, "Governance, management
and coordination problems plague the [health] system at the national,
provincial and local levels, thereby undermining political
commitment, planning, budgetary expenditure, coordination and
alignment of partnerships, the accountability and transparency of
service providers, and the participation of the population in
management of the services."
It adds, "Combined
with extreme poverty, these factors create financial barriers
hampering families' access to nutrition and services, and weaken the
social standards that are essential for keeping families together and
maintaining a protective environment for children."
in healthcare needed
"The absence of government
investment and the fragmentation of public assistance have eroded the
capacity of civil society and of functional public facilities to
maintain quality services," adds the DRC Country Programme
"The re-mergence and expansion of certain
epidemics (polio [
], measles [
] and cholera [
]) are proof of that. In addition, little has been done to modernize
infrastructure. Essential supply systems, such as the cold chain,
have not been put in place," it states.
There is an
urgent need to address the struggling health system to fight malaria,
"The fight against this scourge must remain
a top priority of the country, despite the lack of financial
resources," said UNICEF's Kouadio. "The government and its
partners should increase the funding for the fight against malaria in
the DRC, in particular, acquisition and universal distribution of
mosquito nets to households, provision of essential drugs and rapid
diagnostic test [kits], and dissemination of environmental sanitation
Malaria occurs almost year-round in DRC due
its tropical climate and its river and lake system. The country has
some 30 large rivers totalling at least 20,000km of shoreline, and 15
lakes totalling about 180,000km, which offer environments conducive
to the proliferation of diseases and disease vectors, including the
Anopheles mosquito, which spreads malaria.
According to MSF's
Stellema, the DRC government and national and international health
actors need to take rapid and sustainable measures to prevent and
treat malaria in order to avoid unnecessary child deaths. In 2012,
MSF treated half a million Congolese for malaria, many of them
children under five.
"MSF's emergency response is saving
lives in the short term. But in the longer term, the organization
cannot address the [malaria] crisis alone," said
so/aw/rz [END] This report online:
Towards internal solutions to the DRC crisis
14 May 2013 (IRIN) - A UN intervention brigade [
] will soon be deployed to the troubled eastern Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) in a bid to neutralize militia groups operating there.
The over-3,000-strong military force will work alongside the
UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to carry out targeted
offensives against militia groups, which have caused numerous
civilian deaths and massive population displacements.
some welcome the forthcoming military intervention, many analysts are
advocating for Kinshasa-led initiatives - such as reforming key
institutions - as necessary, if not alternative, solutions.
this briefing, IRIN highlights some of the key issues that the DRC
government needs to address to secure its restive east.
can the security sector be reformed?
An effective security
sector is key to resolving most of DRC's problems, according to
"The Congolese government's inability to
protect its people or control its territory undermines progress on
everything else," according to The Democratic Republic of Congo:
Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform, a 2012 report by a group of
Congolese and international civil society organizations [
"An effective security sector - organized, resourced,
trained and vetted - is essential to solving problems from
displacement, recruitment of child soldiers and gender-based violence
to economic growth or the trade in conflict minerals," the
But little money is being directly spent on
security sector reform (SSR), it notes. For example, while
official development assistance to DRC post-2006 has amounted to at
least US$14 billion, just over one percent, or about $84.79 million,
has gone to SSR.
The report blamed the international
community for being "politically incoherent and poorly
coordinated" with regard to SSR. It also blamed the DRC
government's lack of political will to take on SSR, attributed to its
According to Naomi Kok, a research
consultant with the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), "SSR is
a long-term project for the DRC, and Kinshasa should take most of the
responsibility for completing this successfully."
DRC's government needs to take charge first. "The problem of the
DRC is a weak, and some may argue an illegitimate, government, unable
to take full control and charge of its vast territory," Nicholas
Opiyo, a Kampala-based lawyer with the Akijul consultancy [
], told IRIN.
He added: "The weakness or division
in the Congolese army is only... a manifestation of the broader
breakdown in the governance infrastructure of the country. As a
result, everyone finds resort in a patchy solution, taking control of
the instruments of violence."
How can the army be reined
Acts of violence against civilians in eastern DRC are
rampant, with the DRC army (FARDC) and dozens of militia groups
FARDC troops are accused of violating human rights
around the town of Minova, in South Kivu Province, last year while
retreating from North Kivu Province after the city of Goma fell
to the M23 militia [
], according to a May UN Joint Human Rights Office report
"In this context, at least 102 women and 33 girls
were victims of rape or other acts of sexual violence perpetrated by
FARDC soldiers," says the report, which noted the soldiers had
arbitrarily executed at least two people, used forced labour and
looted from villages.
FARDC is often regarded as weak, with
poorly organized, unmotivated troops. The M23 [
] mutiny in eastern DRC in 2012 by ethnic Tutsi FARDC officers, for
example, was in part fuelled by grievances over pay and living
Training alone will not address FARDC's problems,
which are structural, say experts.
"There is an
overestimation about what training can achieve. Foreign partners
(Belgium, USA, France, Angola, South African and China) have now been
training the Congolese army since 2006, and the results are very
poor," Thierry Vircoulon, an International Crisis Group (ICG)
analyst, told IRIN in an e-mail.
"Training is only good
when it can be applied but, given the state of the Congolese army,
the trained soldiers are sent back to a dysfunctional organization
without decent pay and working conditions. Training will not solve
the structural problems of the Congolese army."
has also been plagued by ethnic divisions, with some troops still
loyal to militia groups.
"The so-called Congolese army
is a patchwork of fighters with various backgrounds - former Mobutu
military personnel, militiamen from the MLC [Mouvement de liberation
du Congo] of Jean-Pierre Bemba, Mai Mai, AFDL [Alliance des forces
démocratiques pour la libération du Congo] fighters, etc. And there
was not a process to unite these groups, and some of them managed to
stay in their territories of origin - CNDP [Congrès national pour la
défense du people]/M23 in North Kivu," noted Vircoulon.
"Therefore, ethnic and past affiliations remain and are
stronger than the military discipline and command. The Congolese army
is not an institution; it is a patchwork of undisciplined and
untrained groups of fighters."
The process of integrating ex-combatants into
the Congolese army, part of the government's disarmament,
demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, is also mired in
"Currently, the national military is in a
shambles, and there are various armed groups that are in various
stages of DDR. This situation is aggravated by domestic and regional
political manipulation," ISS's Kok told IRIN.
challenge is the failure to address the causes of armed rebellion,
making disarmament often short-lived. In 2009, for example, the
DRC government signed a deal with members of the CNDP, but failure to
fully implement the deal led to the 2012 mutiny that gave rise to
"[When] the M23 were integrated into the FARDC in
2009. their command and control structures [were] more or less
intact. Thus, when the time came for them to defect and form a new
rebellion, they were ready to do so," explained Kok.
The absence of a vetting process for ex-combatants is also a
"A strategy of integrating abusive warlords and
their fighters into the Congolese army - in often short-lived deals
with little or no vetting or training before former combatants are
redeployed as Congolese army soldiers - have fuelled the cycles of
violence and horrific human rights abuses in eastern Congo," Ida
Sawyer, a researcher and advocate with Human Rights Watch (HRW), told
Reforming the judiciary
justice and accountability mechanisms further enable impunity for
Between 15 November and 2 December 2012, at least 58
cases of rape were reported during M23's occupation of Goma,
according to the May UN Joint Human Rights Office report. M23 also
executed 11 civilians, recruited and used child soldiers, and engaged
in forced labour and looting.
Only a few DRC militia leaders
have been arrested and convicted, among them Thomas Lubanga , who in,
March 2012 was found guilty [
] of conscripting child soldiers in the northeastern Ituri
region by the International Criminal Court (ICC). In March,
former M23 commander Bosco Ntaganda surrendered to the ICC.
Experts are calling for the establishment of specialized
courts within DRC to try human rights crimes outside the ICC's
"Together with Congolese civil society
organizations, we have also called for the establishment of
specialized mixed chambers or a specialized mixed court within the
Congolese justice system, with the involvement of international
prosecutors, judges and other personnel to prosecute war crimes and
crimes against humanity committed in Congo since 1990," said
"The need to hold to account those
responsible for perpetuating grave crimes (government troops, rebels
and militia) must not be short-changed for any short-term gains,"
added analyst Opiyo.
According to ICG's Vircoulon, "The
blocking of justice reform is the reason why impunity is rife in the
What about negotiating local solutions?
talks between M23 and the DRC government are ongoing in
Kampala, under the auspices of the International Conference on the
Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an approach favoured by analysts
sceptical of the military intervention force [
"It all depends on the effectiveness of
the UN intervention brigade, but from the point of the organization
[ICGLR], we don't believe the intervention brigade is the final
solution to the conflict," Stephen Mwachofi Singo, an ICGLR
programme officer, told IRIN.
"Already, through [the]
ICGLR process, there is a political process ongoing in Kampala. Such
a process should be supported to its logical conclusion," added
Tackling ethnic tensions is key to pacifying conflict
"DRC is a vast, multi-ethnic country, with some
of the ethnic groups spanning the borders of neighbouring countries
such as Angola and Rwanda. Unfortunately, past and the current DRC
government[s] have used this multiplicity of ethnic groups against
each other and for political connivance. This has brewed a sense of
favour and disfavour," said analyst Opiyo.
order for the ethnic-based tensions to ease, there is need for not
just a nationalistic army but a representative government. A
centralized rather than devolved administration would provide a
platform for a national, rather than an ethnic, outlook among the
According to Frederick
Golooba-Mutebi, a political scientist at Makerere University,
"Lasting peace in the DRC cannot come out of the deployment of
aggressive foreign forces."
"The causes of violence
in that country [DRC] are internal. The solution therefore lies in
resolving the internal problems that fuel the fighting. Only [the]
Congolese can solve their problems in a sustainable way. Foreigners
will not do it for them."
so/aw/rz [END] This report
more force in the DRC more of the same?
8 May 2013 (IRIN) - A more belligerent DRC peace force (short)
New force to "carry out targeted offensive operations"
South Africa becoming more pro-intervention
- Offensive posture
could worsen humanitarian situation
- Question marks over
The imminent deployment of a UN-backed
3,000-strong international force mandated to "neutralize. and
disarm" all armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) marks a switch to a more belligerent international stance
towards rebel militia, but has met with scepticism in some quarters.
The deployment of this "international brigade" made
up of troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania will complement
the existing UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and is
designed to help quell M23 [
] and other rebel militias.
When an intervention force was
first mooted by the African Union (AU) last year, Sivuyile Bam, AU
head of Peace and Support Operations Division (PSOD), told IRIN the
plan was to "deal specifically with M23, and when M23 go away,
they [the intervention force] go away". That has since evolved
into preventing the expansion of all armed groups, and neutralizing
and disarming them by deploying an "offensive" military
force, said a UN Security Council resolution. [
Pretoria-based think tank the Institute for Security
Studies (ISS) [ http://issafrica.org/
] estimates there are more than 33 armed groups currently operating
in eastern DRC. They are variously involved in mineral extraction and
self-defence through to acting as proxies for the strategic interests
of neighbouring states.
The intervention force, known as
SADCBrig (Southern African Development Community Brigade), will
"carry out targeted offensive operations. either unilaterally or
jointly with the FARDC [DRC national army], in a robust, highly
mobile and versatile manner and in strict compliance with
international law," says UN resolution 2098. [
It will consist "inter alia of three infantry
battalions, one artillery and one Special force and Reconnaissance
company with headquarters in Goma," the UN resolution adds.
Since the first deployment of "blue helmets" to the
DRC in 1999, first as the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and then as
MONUSCO, troop numbers have increased more than three-fold from the
original 5,000-odd uniformed soldiers. There have been supplementary
ad hoc military missions, such as the 2003 European Union (EU)
military intervention in Bunia during the Ituri ethnic-based conflict
dubbed Operation Artemis, [
] and the 2009 operations Umoja Wetu (Our Unity) and Kimia II, a
joint military offensive of DRC and Rwandan security forces against
the armed group Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération de Rwanda
A military analyst serving with the South African
National Defence Force (SANDF), who declined to be identified, said
the Security Council resolution was "a massive expansion of the
task" first envisaged by the AU, but the mandate had to be
"wider than M23" if the ambition was to protect civilians.
The analyst told IRIN the intervention
force was expected "to have initial capability by end of May and
operational capability by end of June ".
deployment of South African troops in CAR and their participation in
SADCBrig is being viewed by analysts as a departure from South
Africa's previous military ventures, with a more aggressive stance
towards resolving the continent's conflicts. It has been dubbed the
[President Jacob] Zuma doctrine by analysts.
Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a media briefing on 29
April 2013 her country was in favour of "preventative diplomacy,
intervening when there are situations of strife. When we are called
upon to do that, we will always be there, we will never say no."
In a statement adjoining the UN resolution, Rwanda's
Eugene-Richard Gasana hoped the force would tackle the "FDLR,
which had sparked the 1994 [Rwandan] genocide". Rwanda, which is
suspected of supporting M23, sees it as a bulwark against the FDLR.
The military analyst said MONUSCO had been "hesitant"
to use force beyond self-defence - something for which the UN's
largest peacekeeping operation was roundly condemned when M23 walked
into Goma unopposed, despite the presence of more than 1,500 armed
peacekeepers in the town and nearly 6,000 in North Kivu Province.
Ahead of the deployment of SADCBrig, and in the wake of 13
South African soldiers having been killed recently in the Central
African Republic trying to prevent the rebel coup by the Séléka
alliance, M23 taunted SANDF on social media saying it was "corrupt"
and "old". [
Meanwhile, some doubt the new force can
achieve its objective.
"Armed (DRC) groups are seen as a
military threat but most of them are not. The military option against
the armed groups has failed repeatedly and some [armed groups]
deserve a small dose of military pressure but [also] a lot of police
work in order to be neutralized. The intervention brigade in
particular and the UN [MONUSCO] in general are not equipped for
this," International Crisis Group (ICG) [
] analyst Thierry Vircoulon told IRIN.
He said SADCBrig
deployment was "security by substitution", and would delay
reforms of the DRC national army (FARDC), which has been accused of
being a serial human rights abuser by rights organizations.
SADCBrig's more offensive posture would lead to "retaliations
against civilians [by armed groups] and worsening of the humanitarian
situation", unless stringent measures were put in place to
protect civilians in the areas of operation.
author of a recent report commissioned by the Norwegian Refugee
Council (NRC) entitled Non-military strategies for civilian
protection in the DRC, [
] said: "The international community continues to believe that
military protection of civilians in the DRC may succeed, if there are
only enough soldiers or a sufficiently strong mandate.
there is little if any empirical evidence for this. Faith in military
solutions is exaggerated by the mistaken belief that violence can
only be met with more violence.
service machinery has become a virtually permanent fixture in the
region, serving victims of multiple displacements and repeating
cycles of violence for two decades, while efforts to change the
underlying dynamics of conflict have been insufficient and
He told IRIN the approach by policymakers
to armed groups in the DRC was "one size fits all. People tend
to oversimplify or choose extreme interpretations of armed groups.
People assume they are unreasonable and not open to negotiation and
communication. This is not specific to DRC. It is true everywhere."
"I would not categorically dismiss the possibility that
there may be armed groups with whom such approaches would fail, and
there may be armed groups who would be more deterred from human
rights abuse by an effective military counter-force. It is
conceivable, but it must be the result of a very specific detailed
analysis, not a generic knee-jerk approach."
Andre Roux, author of a recent ISS briefing [
] on SADCBrig's deployment, said: "The realities of conducting
operations in this remote and complex environment have been
underestimated in the rush to put solutions on the table."
Roux said the capabilities of SADCBrig "to effectively
conduct `war fighting' operations in an integrated manner, are
questionable. With different operational doctrines, a variety of
tactical deployment techniques and military equipment that is often
not interoperable, the battalions can fight as individual units, but
questions arise about whether they can or must fight as a cohesive
SANDF is expected to transfer its troops
serving with MONUSCO to SADCBrig, which is supposed to operate in
conjunction with FARDC, though past experiences of cooperation
between SANDF and FARDC appear to have been problematical. "Members
of the local army [FARDC] did not share information and they would
steal anything without blinking an eye," said a June 2012 ISS
report on relations between the two.
that apart from the challenges of integrating military "tactics
and doctrines", there was also the risk of "a protracted
counter-insurgency-type scenario characterized by atrocities in which
entire villages are wiped out by rebel forces in order to divert the
attention of the brigade into a defensive mind-set focused on the
difficult task of protecting civilians rather than neutralizing
illegal armed groups.
"Is this again a peacekeeping
band-aid that will struggle to meet the high expectations that do not
consider the difficult realities of the situation?" he asks.
go/cb [END] This report online:
conflict for coffee in DRC
8 May 2013 (IRIN) - Entrepreneur Gilbert Makelele wants armed groups
in his part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to wake up and
smell the coffee.
"You should tell the population to grow
coffee, as it's the best way for them to make money," he told a
militia member during a recent visit to the town of Kalonge, where he
and his fellow cooperative members have planted a nursery for coffee
The Kivu Cooperative of Coffee Planters and Traders
(CPNCK), which Makelele founded five years ago, has planted six of
these nurseries in the Kalonge-Pinga-Mweso triangle, a hotbed of
"If the young men in this area knew how
much they could earn with coffee, they would not be interested in
joining militias," Makelele told IRIN.
Coffee, a traditional export crop, was
virtually abandoned across much of North Kivu in the past 30 years.
DRC's production shrank from 110,000 metric tons in the late 1980s to
about 50,000 metric tons in 2009, according to the DRC's national
CPNCK says it is giving away half a million
arabica seedlings to help relaunch coffee's cultivation.
people in the Kalonge area, including members of armed groups, appear
to be interested in planting coffee. The militiaman told IRIN he
would like to plant the crop on his ancestral land of more than 100
hectares, but that he would first have to raise US$1,000 to pay the
land registry for title deeds.
Uncertainty about land titles
and the involvement of Congolese and foreign armed groups are just
some of the problems local farmers will face if they decide to take
Makelele's advice. Planting coffee is a long-term investment,
prices have been volatile and the market is not as reliable as that
for food crops.
Nevertheless, the crop has paid off for
neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda, which have increased their production
in recent years. The crop is Uganda's single most important export,
and coffee and tea together account for nearly half of Rwanda's
The recent history of coffee prices could also deter
would-be planters: The New York market price for mild arabica,
currently slightly above the inflation-adjusted average for the past
decade, has fluctuated by more than 300 percent since 2003, and has
trended downwards since the late 1970s.
But coffee's promoters
argue that increasing demand in middle-income countries, plus the
possibility that climate change could lead to the spread of diseases
in coffee plants, point to higher prices in future - and bright
prospects for Kivu coffee.
Additionally, the temperate
climate in the Kivu region's hills is thought to be protection
against coffee rust, the most devastating disease affecting arabica.
Partly for this reason, World Coffee Research describes the area as
"a paradise for coffee".
This optimism has
helped to persuade several NGOs - including Catholic Relief Services
(CRS), Oxfam, the Eastern Congo Initiative and the Fairtrade
organization Twin - to launch coffee projects in the Kivu
Twin has helped a South Kivu
co-operative, Sopacdi, replant coffee and improve yields, quality and
post-harvest processing, enabling its 3,500 members to become the
first producers in Kivu to achieve organic and Fairtrade
publicized the job opportunities it has provided to ex-combatants. A
number of them work at a mechanized washing centre - paid for by Twin
and employing 161 people - where the coffee berries are depulped and
One of the staff at the washing centre, former
rebel Habamungu Engavashapa, told IRIN he was happy with civilian
life because he was able to spend nights in a house rather than in
Another ex-combatant, Abdul Mahagi, said
Sopacdi had trained him as a machinist and given him a contract; he
said he was beginning to see a way to organize his life.
Other workers at the washing centre, however,
complained that their salaries, about $60 a month, were barely enough
to live on.
The main opportunities that coffee
co-operatives are likely to provide for ex-combatants in the short
term would be to clear land and plant seedlings.
been employing 50 ex-combatants on these tasks at a rate of $1 a day,
much less than they would earn in artisanal mining, but not
insignificant in most of the villages, says Jean-Baptiste Musbyimana,
an agricultural journalist based in Goma.
could be more enticing for ex-combatants and smallholder farmers who
are able to grow coffee for themselves.
For information on the
profitability of coffee versus that of alternative crops, IRIN
consulted Franck Muke, an agronomist who has studied coffee
production in DRC and in Brazil; Xavier Phemba, CRS's agricultural
project co-ordinator in Goma; and Sandra Kavira, an agronomist
working for the International Fertilizer Development Centre.
Their data suggest returns from a hectare of 2,500
coffee trees could be two to three times as high as the returns from
a hectare of maize or beans, assuming an absence of mineral
fertilizers and only limited use of organic
Jean-Baptiste Musabyimana, of the
Federation of Agricultural Producer Organizations of Congo (FOPAC),
which does not promote coffee, said coffee is regarded as having
several advantages over other crops, including the potential for
intercropping with bananas, beans or legumes, which provide organic
waste and additional profits from the same acreage.
the trees have been planted, coffee also requires less labour than
annual crops and is less likely to be stolen.
groups won't cut off the berries and eat them," coffee
plantation owner Eric Kulage told IRIN. "And the workers don't
want the berries either, whereas when they are harvesting maize they
always solicit some bags."
disadvantage is the cost of planting and the fact that the trees
cannot be harvested for the first three years and do not reach their
full potential for five to eight years. Muke estimated costs of
planting 2,500 trees per hectare, and pruning for three
non-productive years, at $850 to $950. These costs, and the risks
involved, limit the acreage farmers will be willing to devote to the
Helping DRC compete
limitation to DRC's coffee industry is the lack of mechanized washing
stations, which cut down on waste and help maintain product
consistency. Washing stations are the norm in Uganda and Rwanda, but
there are hardly any in Kivu, where producers depulp the berries by
hand or sell the wet berries to merchants from Uganda and
Aid agencies are planning to install several
washing stations at sites close to large population centres and to
Lake Kivu. But Muke says this could be a mistake, as the lakeside
areas have higher humidity, which is thought to promote coffee
There could be social advantages to promoting a
perennial crop in areas further from Lake Kivu, like Kalonge Pinga
and Mweso, where many young men see joining an armed group as their
most viable livelihood option.
"If they have
a perennial crop to look after, they will want to settle down,"
suggested CPNCK's Makelele.
But a major obstacle to
promoting agriculture in areas where militias recruit is, of course,
insecurity. Although armed groups are unlikely to steal coffee
berries, they might try to steal bulk loads of dried coffee from
Plantation owner Kulage
commented that, in his experience, armed groups had not succeeded in
stealing and marketing large coffee harvests in recent years. He
suggested that security forces might be deployed to protect washing
stations during the limited periods when bulk loads of dried coffee
are left there.
Oxfam's co-ordinator for North Kivu,
Tariq Riebl, doubted whether any donor would accept the risk of
building a washing station in a place like Kalonge. He noted that
90,000 seedlings had recently been stolen from a CPNCK nursery near
"If you mention that to donors, they won't
want to hear anything more," he said.
argues that the theft was not a problem because the co-op was going
to give the seedlings away anyway.
am very happy about it," he told IRIN. "It shows that
people want to plant coffee."
nl/rz [END] This report
cuts off civilians in DRC's Katanga
2 May 2013 (IRIN) - Tens of thousands of displaced people in the
Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Katanga Province have received
little or no humanitarian aid in the months since having fled ongoing
In one territory, Malemba Nkulu, the number of
displaced is estimated to have risen from 12,000 to 42,000 between
December 2012 and January 2013, and no food distribution has yet been
organized. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) says, "The global acute malnutrition rate is above 19
percent, and the severely malnourished need treatment."
percent global acute malnutrition is nearly twice the emergency
threshold level," Quoc Nguyen, head of operations for the UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Katanga, told IRIN, adding that seven
territories in Katanga have acute malnutrition rates above the 10
UNICEF is assisting children and pregnant and
lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition in several
territories, including Pweto and Manono, where the rate is also above
19 percent; however this treatment is still not available in Malemba
Nkulu. "There's no programme in Malemba Nkulu because of lack of
funding, lack of access, insecurity and a lack of partners who can
implement a programme," said Nguyen.
Malnutrition is a
major contributor to the under-five mortality rate in the province,
which UNICEF's latest survey put at 188 per 1,000. In its 16 April
bulletin for DRC, OCHA said that in Malemba Nkulu "no
humanitarian intervention has been implemented mainly because of
difficulties of access and lack of funding".
people in the neighbouring territory of Manono - recently estimated
to number 31,000 - have not had a food distribution since September,
the UN World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN this week, although a
convoy of food trucks has just been sent there. WFP has distributed
food in the past month at or near most of the other major population
centres in Katanga where large numbers of displaced people have
But of 17,000 people who were displaced this year in
the territories of Kalemie, Moba and Manono, most have not yet
received any aid, nor have the 747 families living on the route from
Mitwaba to Kisele, OCHA reported on 23 April.
The total number of displaced in Katanga is
estimated by the Commission on Population Movements (CMP) - an
official body which collects data from aid workers - to have risen
from 64,082 in December 2011 to 353,931 currently.
are. enormous both among the displaced and the host population,"
OCHA said in a report published on April 10 [
]. "Many IDPs have become more vulnerable due to repeated
displacements, often across vast distances."
in violence by Mai-Mai militia groups has been causing waves of
displacement since late 2011. WFP's head of operations in Katanga,
Amadou Samake, said the so-called 'triangle of death' between
Mitwaba, Manono and Pweto had been emptied of most of its population
- 75,000 households - by April 2012. By the end of last year, the
displaced already numbered more than 300,000.
outwards from conflict zones has continued, and Mai-Mai violence has
spread west and south, to Malemba Nkulu, Lubudi and Kambove
On 17 February, a gang from the newly created
Mai-Mai militia known as Kata Katanga (meaning 'cut off Katanga')
killed three officials and drove out the population at Kinsevere,
only 40km from Lubumbashi, the provincial capital.
March, some 400 lightly armed Kata Katanga members marched from the
bush to the centre of Lubumbashi, unopposed, before they were forced
to surrender after a shootout with the elite Republican Guard.
the persistent insecurity, fewer than the 10 percent of the displaced
have returned to their villages, Samake estimates.
assisted 250,000 people in Katanga last year, he said, but has not
had the resources to guarantee the displaced three months of rations,
the standard the agency aims for in North Kivu. Currently, he said,
the agency has 5,915 tons in stock or en route and would need an
additional 10,383 tons to feed 320,000 displaced people in Katanga
through the second quarter of 2013.
If the displaced do not
soon return to their villages, Samake added, another year of missed
harvests will worsen food security across the province.
Nguyen commented that much of Katanga was already in the grip of a
food security crisis before the Mai-Mai's resurgence in 2011. "There
is a lack of basic services in every sector - health, water,
nutrition and agriculture - and the conflict and displacement make an
already bad situation much worse," he said.
OCHA reports the security situation worsened in April
in Pweto, Manono and Mitwaba territories, with attacks by Mai-Mai
groups on a dozen villages.
The national army, FARDC,
recently retook the town of Shamwana, at the centre of 'the triangle
of death', but International Crisis Group (ICG) analyst Thierry
Vircoulon says the military seems to be having little success in
suppressing the Mai-Mai. At the start of 2013, the army had only
1,000 men available in Katanga, but their number is now up to 2,500,
UN sources told IRIN.
Central Katanga has been unstable since
Mai-Mai commander Gedeon Mtanga escaped from prison in September
2011. He and more than 1,000 of his followers were freed from
Lubumbashi's central jail by eight armed men in broad daylight; there
was speculation that the jail break was arranged by local power
holders. Gedeon had led a Mai-Mai group known for its brutality and
attacks on civilians from 2002 to 2007. Africa Confidential reported
on 1 March that "his ambition is to root out the old order"
and "his men have killed at least 15 traditional chiefs in Nord
According to OCHA, the other main driver
of instability in the province is Kata Katanga, which has also been
Like the brutal Mai-Mai group Morgan [
], in DRC's Orientale Province, the Kata Katanga and Gedeon Mai-Mai
seem to get much of their income from poaching, rather than minerals
or agriculture. Therefore, they may not need much support from the
There are no recent figures for the Mai-Mai
in Katanga, but ICG estimated they might have numbered 5,000 to 8,000
in 2005 [
Following the bloody suppression of a Kata Katanga rally in
Lubumbashi on 23 March, a report by local civil society activists
accused senior members of the regime of providing the group with arms
ICG's Vircoulon told IRIN he believes that
several local "barons" are behind the Kata Katanga.
DRC's former police chief General John Numbi - a native of Malemba
Nkulu who built his career as a political organizer among the
Balubakat, President Joseph Kabila's ethnic group - may have held the
key to security in the province. ICG reports that Numbi was supplying
Gedeon with arms from 2002 to 2004. Later, he organized the manhunt
that led to the Mai-Mai leader's capture.
In 2010, Numbi was
suspended as police chief following allegations that he was
responsible for the murder of human rights defender Floribert
Significantly, Gedeon and many of his followers were
captured in 2007, after Kabila had won elections with support from a
broad coalition in Katanga and elsewhere in the country. That
coalition is now crumbling, allowing armed groups to be reactivated
in many areas of eastern DRC.
April report [
] by OCHA in Katanga concludes: "Given the duration of the
current conflict, humanitarian actors do not expect to see any
improvements in terms of displacement numbers or humanitarian needs
in the coming months."
The report highlights alleged
abuses by the army as well the Mai-Mai, including allegations that 50
women and 20 girls were detained for two days and repeatedly raped by
soldiers in February 2012.
"Without an increased
presence" of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO),
says OCHA, "such abuses will continue and may even increase, as
will further displacements".
Currently there are 450
blue helmets in Katanga, an area the size of France.
report also calls for a political solution to the conflict in
Katanga, for the government to reinitiate its programme to disarm,
demobilize and re-integrate the Mai-Mai, and for humanitarian actors
to establish contact with Mai-Mai groups so as to facilitate
humanitarian access and sensitize the combatants on international
nl/kr/rz [END] This report online:
M23, one year on
3 April 2013 (IRIN) - The M23 rebellion, the latest of a string of
armed insurgencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) North
Kivu Province, has been active for one year now, during which
hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and many have lost their
The Mouvement du 23-Mars, or March 23 Movement [
], came into existence in April 2012, when hundreds of mainly ethnic
Tutsi soldiers of FARDC, the national army, mutinied over poor living
conditions and poor pay. Most of the mutineers had been members of
the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) [
], another armed group that in 2009 signed a deal with the
government, which the dissidents felt Kinshasa had not fully
implemented. M23 is named after the date the agreement was
In November 2012, M23 captured Goma, the provincial
capital, but withdrew and subsequently entered into peace talks with
the government. Neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda were accused of
backing M23 by a UN Security Council Group of Experts report [
], charges both countries strongly deny.
In this briefing,
IRIN outlines the group's impact on the province over the past year,
its current position and avenues for peace in eastern DRC.
is the humanitarian situation in North Kivu?
between M23 and FARDC have subsided, "North Kivu remains highly
insecure due to the proliferation of weapons, sporadic fighting
between armed groups and the army, and inter-community tensions,"
according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
OCHA notes that since the beginning of the M23
rebellion, more than half a million people have been driven from
their homes in North Kivu. The figure accounts for more than half of
the 914,000 displaced people in the province. Tens of thousands more
fled to refugee camps [
] in Rwanda and Uganda.
According to Amnesty International [
], M23 has been responsible for human rights abuses "including
violations of the duty to care for the civilian population when
launching attacks, forced recruitment of children who were either
trained to take part in hostilities or forced to work to build
military positions, unlawful killings, and acts of sexual violence".
The organization also blamed FARDC for widespread abuses against
Where are M23's leaders?
leadership now looks significantly different than it did in April
In February 2013, a rift was reported in M23's
leadership, with one of the founders, Bosco Ntaganda, and M23's
political leader, Jean-Marie Runiga, on one side and M23's military
chief, Sultani Makenga [
], on the other. The two factions clashed in North Kivu, and Makenga
sacked Runiga, who was the group's representative at the peace talks
taking place with the DRC government in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Following more fighting in March, Ntaganda's faction surrendered.
Both he and Runiga, along with several senior commanders and close to
700 fighters, fled to Rwanda.
On 18 March, Ntaganda
surrendered himself to the US Embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali,
and asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court for
trial over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. He made
his first appearance in court on 26 March. According to a paper [
] by the Rift Valley Institute, Ntaganda had fallen out with fellow
commanders early in the rebellion and had been effectively relegated
to the sidelines.
Experts have lauded Ntaganda's arrest as a
positive step in the fight against impunity in DRC, but warn that it
does not mean an end to violence in the region.
been placed under house arrest [
] in Rwanda; the Rwandan government has disarmed [
] the M23 troops who surrendered and moved them to a refugee camp
more than 50km from the DRC-Rwanda border.
Various reports [
] indicate that Makenga is now consolidating his fighters, thought to
number about 1,500, and M23-held territory in North Kivu, but he may
also be preparing for further negotiations with President Joseph
Kabila's government. According to Congo expert Jason Stearns [
], "The internal M23 split may have provided the break they [DRC
representatives] needed to make the deal acceptable for the rebels."
Any deal is likely to involve the integration of Makenga's
fighters into FARDC, with lower cadre fighters automatically
integrated and higher ranking officers considered for integration on
a case-by-case basis. However, analysts say the re-integration method
has not worked in the past and must be rethought.
integration in FARDC is feasible but is not suitable. The policy of
repeated integration of armed groups in FARDC is [contributing] to
the fragmentation and militarization of FARDC," Marc-Andre
Lagrange, DRC senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, told
IRIN via email. "Since that approach has proven, with M23, to be
a failure, the DRC government with MONUSCO and UNSC should look for
According to a recent article in the
newsletter Africa Confidential: "Experts broadly agree that some
kind of agreement between Kinshasa and M23 is in the offing and will
be signed soon, but reliable sources in North Kivu diverge on what
the outcome will be. Some feel that Makenga will reintegrate his
troops into the FARDC, while others suggest that Makenga and [new]
M23 political leader Bertrand Bisimwa can stay independent of the
army while not being seen as a 'negative force'."
is the fate of the peace talks?
The Kampala peace talks
between M23 and the DRC government began in December 2012 [
], under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great
Lakes Region (ICGLR). The talks have made little progress and have
been put on hold due to the rebel group's internal problems. Bisimwa
has urged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to revive the talks [
On 24 February, a UN-brokered peace agreement [
] aimed at ending conflict in eastern DRC was signed in the Ethiopian
capital, Addis Ababa, by 11 African countries - Angola, Burundi, the
Central African Republic, DRC, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South
Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Dubbed the Peace,
Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC, the deal's goals
include the reformation of the DRC's army and an end to regional
interference in the country. Among the decisions reached was the
formation of a neutral intervention force aimed at fighting "negative
forces" in eastern DRC - referring not only to M23 but other
armed groups as well.
While the deal was lauded as a
breakthrough by African countries, analysts are more sceptical,
criticizing the agreement as being long on rhetoric and short on
detail and solid action plans. A Foreign Policy Association blog post
] noted that since the 1990s, a number of similar regional agreements
had failed to bring peace to DRC. It pointed out that the some key
players were not mentioned or involved - including armed groups like
Raia Mutomboki [
] (Swahili for "angry citizens"), Mai Mai Cheka and the
Hutu-dominated FDLR, whose presence in eastern DRC is perceived as a
threat by Rwanda.
"The primary aggressors present in the
country for the last 10 years, the militia groups that patrol the
eastern provinces, were not even included in the discussion,"
said the author, Daniel Donovan. "By excluding these groups,
they hold no commitment to such an agreement, which begs the
question: How does this move signify a guarantee for peace?"
is next for the region?
On 28 March, the UN Security Council
] an offensive "intervention brigade" to "address
imminent threats to peace and security" as part of the UN
Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
objectives of the new force - which will be based in North Kivu
Province in eastern DRC and total 3,069 peacekeepers - are to
neutralize armed groups, reduce the threat they posed to State
authority and civilian security, and make space for stabilization
activities," according to the UN News Centre. It also aims to
support the Addis accord.
Following the announcement, the DRC
government said it supported the intervention brigade and warned M23
rebels to disband. M23's Bisimwa has rejected [
] the UN's decision to send the force, but said [
] the group would neither fight nor flee the UN forces.
International Federation of Human Rights [
] has warned of a potential "escalation in military
confrontations and increased risk of retaliatory attacks by armed
groups against civilians" as a result of the force's entry into
the fray, and urged MONUSCO to "mitigate against the increased
risks that communities will face".
Experts say reforms
in eastern DRC must go beyond military solutions. "The
intervention brigade. should not be seen as the only solution but one
element of a comprehensive solution," said ICG's
"After last year's fall of Goma and rise of the
Mai Mai [rebel] threat, there is a serious need for a new approach
against the armed groups. Such an approach should include the use of
military force; a targeted policy of arrest on armed groups' leaders;
a DDR [disarmament, demobilization and reintegration] offer focusing
on civilian reintegration; the investigation and neutralization of
the logistical networks of the armed groups; and development work in
the communities that generate armed groups," he told IRIN.
"Groups like M23 are not a cause but a symptom of what's
going wrong in the DRC," he added. "The Congolese
government must commit to implement the security sector reforms,
especially the reforms concerning the FARDC. It must also abandon its
policy of peace prevailing over justice."
This report online:
for healthcare in DRC
31 March 2013 (IRIN) - The British government has announced a major
new programme [
] aimed at providing essential healthcare to six million people in
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The five-year, US$270.7
million project will focus on rebuilding health facilities, training
health workers, and supplying drugs and equipment.
has destroyed much of the country's health infrastructure, as well as
the road networks and vital services such as electricity, meaning
patients often have to travel long distances to health centres that
may not be equipped to handle their complications.
put together a list of five health issues in DRC that require urgent
Maternal and Child Health - DRC's maternal
mortality ratio [
] is 670 deaths per 100,000 live births, with an estimated 19,000
maternal deaths annually. The country has a severe shortage of health
workers - less than one health professional is available per 1,000
With 170 out of every 1,000 children dying before they
reach the age of five and 10 percent of infants underweight, DRC has
one of the worst child health indicators [
] in the world. It is one of five countries in the world in which
about half of under-five deaths occur. Some of the biggest killers of
children are diarrhoea, malaria, malnutrition and pneumonia.
violence - Several studies report high levels of sexual violence
perpetrated against women, children and men in DRC, both by armed
groups and within the home; one study [
], conducted in the North and South Kivu and Ituri in 2010, found
that 40 percent of women and 24 percent of men had experienced sexual
Between the stigma of rape and the dearth of decent
health services in DRC, sexual violence often leaves survivors
injured, infected with sexually transmitted illnesses and severely
traumatized. Some of the main requirements are first aid and trauma
services, counselling, diagnosis and treatment of sexually
transmitted infections, HIV post-exposure prophylaxis and access to
During a recent visit to eastern DRC, UK
Foreign Secretary William Hague announced $312,110 in new funding [
] to support the NGO Physicians for Human Rights, which works at
Panzi Hospital in South Kivu Province, "to help efforts to
develop local and national capacity to document and collect evidence
of sexual violence".
Diarrhoeal diseases - The
consumption of unsafe water is one of the main causes of the
diarrhoeal diseases - such as cholera - that infect and kill children
and adults in DRC. A cholera epidemic that started in June 2011 has
infected tens of thousands and killed more than 200 people. In the
capital, Kinshasa [
] , which has been hit by the epidemic, less than 40 percent of
people have no access to piped water. According to the UN Children's
Fund, UNICEF [ http://www.unicef.org/media/media_68359.html
], 36 million people in DRC live without improved drinking water, and
50 million without improved sanitation.
Some of the measures
to boost access to safe water and sanitation include hygiene
awareness campaigns, rehabilitation of water supply and of sanitation
facilities, disinfection of contaminated environments, chlorination
of water, and distribution of soap.
Immunization - Despite the
existence of an effective vaccine for measles at a cost of roughly $1
per vaccine, the disease is one of the leading killers of children in
DRC. According to the Global Alliance for Vaccines, [
] 20-30 percent of children in DRC do not have access to
immunization. Some challenges to universal vaccine coverage include
the poor road network, the size of the country (DRC is Africa's
second largest country), unreliable electricity for vaccines that
require refrigeration, and low awareness within the population.
- More than one million people in DRC are living with HIV; 350,000 of
these qualify for life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs, but only
44,000 - or 15 percent - are actually on treatment. Just 9 percent of
the population knows of their HIV status, largely because of low
awareness, but also because of a shortage of facilities - for
instance, only one laboratory in the country is equipped to carry out
polymerase chain reaction tests for early infant diagnosis.
5.6 percent of HIV-positive pregnant Congolese women receive ARVs to
prevent transmission of HIV to their babies; according to government
figures, the mother-to-child transmission [
] rate is about 37 percent.
Humanitarian agencies have called
on the government and donors to urgently boost funding [
] for HIV prevention, treatment and care. kr/rz [END]
report online: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportID=97761
considers cholera vaccination
31 January 2013 (IRIN) - Health experts, including those from
the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Medicines Sans Frontiers
(MSF), are considering introducing immunization campaigns as a way of
dealing with cholera [
] in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the disease is
"Immunization against cholera opens up a new
opportunity [for] treatment and [the] fight against the disease. We
think that there is a new opportunity to use it in the DR Congo as a
complementary measure to existing methods that that have been used in
the past," Marc le Pape, chief of the MSF bureau in the eastern
town of Kalemei, told IRIN.
The parts of DRC most affected by
the disease are characterized by poor hygiene, lack of awareness
about how cholera is transmitted, limited access to protected and
monitored water sources, and lack of sanitation infrastructure [
According to a cholera situation analysis [
] released by WHO in September 2012, there were 22,792 reported cases
of cholera in DRC between January and September 2012. There were 512
cholera-related deaths in the same period.
The government is considering a roll-out of the vaccine,
but some government health officials have opposed calls for an
immunization campaign, instead pushing for efforts to scale-up water
and sanitation programmes.
"At the moment, we in South
Kivu Province [think] immunization is not an emergency because a lot
of work has been done to get clean water to reach more people there,"
Jean-de-Dieu Mpuruta, an official from the Ministry of Health, told
"We believe that if everyone has access to clean
water and applies hygienic requirements - such as drinking boiled
water, washing hands, eating warmed foods, having a clean toilet,
keeping the surroundings/environment clean etc. - cholera disease can
be defeated," he added.
The provision of clean water and
sanitation is critical to reducing the impact of cholera - a
diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated - and
other waterborne diseases.
Globally, there are an estimated
3-5 million cholera cases, resulting in 100,000-120,000 deaths, every
year, according to WHO.
discussed these options at a conference held in the capital,
Kinshasa, from 23 to 24 January. They also considered strengthening
in-hospital care, using avail flexible financing, strengthening the
epidemiological surveillance and communication system, and creating
an emergency fund for cholera, as well as other measures.
a five-year plan to combat cholera - especially in the eastern
region, where a long-running conflict between the government and
rebel forces has hampered prevention and treatment efforts - is being
According to WHO, the vaccination against cholera
will target mostly travellers, fishermen and farmers living along
In 2012, WHO convened a technical working group on the
creation of a global cholera vaccine stockpile [
A study [ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22028938
] carried out in Kolkata, India, on the effectiveness of the oral
cholera vaccine revealed that the vaccine had a 67 percent
protection efficacy against clinically significant cholera for two
years, and showed that the vaccinated population had a 66 percent
protection efficacy against all forms of cholera for three years
There are currently two WHO pre-qualified
oral cholera vaccines, Dukoral and Shanchol. Another five are still
In 2012, a cholera outbreak in the eastern
town of Kisangani spread quickly to Kinshasa and also affected many
towns along the Congo River.
pc/ko/rz[END] This report online:
hunt still on after CAR coup
26 March 2013 (IRIN) - The search for the Ugandan rebel group the
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the rainforests of the Central
African Republic (CAR) will continue despite the ouster of President
François Bozizé by rebel group Séléka, officials say.
overran the capital, Bangui, on 24 March, putting Bozizé to flight.
The rebels named their leader, Michel Djotodjia, the new head of
"I don't think the overthrow of President Bozizé
by Séléka will change our mission and position in the hunt down of
LRA rebels. We are in CAR with the mandate from [the] AU [African
Union] and UN [United Nations]," Uganda's state minister for
international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, told IRIN, adding that
his country is committed to capturing LRA leader Joseph Kony.
has some 2,500 soldiers deployed around the border areas of CAR, the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, where Kony and
his fighters are thought to spend most of their time. The Ugandan
troops are joined by 500 Congolese fighters, 500 South Sudanese and
350 CAR troops, all operating under the auspices of the AU. In late
2011, the US deployed 100 special forces to the region as military
advisers to the effort.
Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director for the think tank
International Crisis Group (ICG), "the fall of Bozizé will not
change much the situation on the ground, except if the Séléka
leaders insist on the departure of the foreign troops as stipulated
in the Libreville agreement [a peace agreement brokered in January
and breached by the latest fighting? but never successfully
say, however, that the AU's decision to suspend CAR from the
organization following the coup could have negative consequences for
the hunt for the LRA.
"The AU's suspension of CAR poses a
great challenge and will slow down the hunt for Kony and his rebels.
Uganda has to re-negotiate with Séléka rebels. in order for its
troops to have the mandate to operate in their territory,"
Ronald Ssekandi, a regional political analyst based in the Ugandan
capital, Kampala, told IRIN.
Angelo Izama, a political affairs
analyst at the US-based Open Society Foundation, said the hunt for
Kony and the LRA would largely depend on Séléka's control of the
"The deterioration of government in CAR is a
significant complication for the hunt against Joseph Kony. The LRA's
asymmetrical, low-tech survival strategy thrives in conditions of
lawlessness and violence, especially in the hinterland," he told
"Already the geographical terrain, as well as the
size of CAR, has been a practical constraint against the forces
hunting Kony. If Séléka is unable to consolidate control, it would
further the physical and tactical net within which LRA can seek
opportunities to rebuild weapons caches," he added. "The
Séléka rebels do not have the capacity [to limit LRA activities].
In addition, Kony is not their problem; there are much more important
emergencies to deal with."
According to Lt Gen Edward
Katumba Wamala, commander of the Uganda People's Defence Forces'
(UPDF) Land Forces, Kony's fighters currently number about 400, and
they continue to roam around CAR, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan. He said
some LRA defectors recently reported that Kony was in Sudan's western
region of Darfur, while his senior commanders, Dominic Ongwen and
Okot Odhiambo, are thought to be in CAR.
Kony, Odhiambo and
Ongwen are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [
] for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in
LRA still a threat
"The LRA no longer pose
a big threat, but there are still [a] few pockets of LRA rebels
operating in CAR under Odhiambo and Ongwen. They are a nuisance. They
have continued to abduct, maim and kill unarmed people," Katumba
"It is important to recall that, despite [the]
relatively small number of remaining elements, the LRA continues to
pose a serious threat to civilians, with dire humanitarian
consequences, in the affected areas in CAR, DRC and South Sudan,"
Abou Moussa, head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa
(UNOCA), told IRIN via email.
In February, the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported [
] that in the country's southeast, "there has been an increase
in the LRA attacks against communities and hostages being
According to LRA Crisis Tracker [
], the LRA was responsible for 13 civilian deaths and 17 abductions
in CAR February 2013. UNOCA says an estimated 443,000 people are
currently displaced in LRA-affected areas, many of them depending on
international assistance for food, shelter, health care, water and
sanitation. This includes an estimated 347,000 people in Province
Orientale's Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé districts in DRC.
Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, recently sent a message [
] to the LRA, assuring them that, should they be arrested, they would
not be "tortured or killed" and would receive a fair
Commitment to the cause
Analysts say if the LRA
threat is to be laid to rest once and for all, countries in the
region must show more commitment to finding Kony.
requires committed governments to arrest Kony. The ICC can only base
its optimism in this practical possibility. There is no government in
CAR, soft states in South Sudan and Chad, and support for LRA from
Sudan. It's plausible that the situation above favours the LRA and
not the ICC," said Open Society Foundation's Izama.
continued existence, and that of his entire group, is part of a much
larger problem in the Great Lakes region: failure by governments to
resolve internal political problems and to work together in a
concerted way to bring to an end cross-border insurgencies in the
region," said Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a political scientist
and senior research fellow at Makerere University's Institute of
Social Research. "Their proliferation points to the existence of
problems or grievances that ought to be addressed - questions to do
with citizenship and nationality, land ownership, access to services
so/kr/rz [END] This report online:
support for IDPs outside DRC's formal camps
21 March 2013 (IRIN) - Humanitarian agencies in the Democratic
Republic of Congo's (DRC) North Kivu Province are working to increase
their support for hundreds of thousands of displaced people living
outside formal camps with little humanitarian support, often relying
on the kindness of sometimes equally vulnerable host
Fighting in North Kivu in 2012 displaced some
590,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In total, some 914,000 people are
displaced in the province. According to the NGO Refugees
International (RI), some 802,000 of these are living outside formal
"Only 112,000 North Kivu IDPs live in
UNHCR-operated camps, while 230,000 are in spontaneous settlements,
and the rest are living with host communities," RI advocate
Caelin Briggs [
] told IRIN following a mission to the province.
the board, we found extremely harsh conditions, particularly in the
non-official camps - spontaneous settlements and people living with
host families," she added. "Food is the number one need
mentioned. For instance, between July and December 2012, there was no
food distribution in Masisi [territory]. They try to get day labour
on nearby farms, but there is just not enough work to go
Briggs noted that protection was another issue
of concern. "In Goma, there is a big threat to women fetching
firewood, especially as they now have to go deeper into the forest
for it," she said. "They are advised to go in groups, but
this is not really helpful against a group of armed men."
DRC government has not yet ratified the African Union Convention for
the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
2009 - also known as the Kampala Convention [
] - the world's first legally binding instrument aimed specifically
at aiding people displaced within their own countries.
"Until recently, there was very little
assistance and coordination of activities in spontaneous sites and
for IDPs living in host families and other displacement situations,"
Simplice Kpandji, the UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) public information
officer in DRC, told IRIN. "Over the last few months, the
humanitarian community has sought to create a new, more holistic
coordination/assistance system which includes not only CCCM [camp
coordination/camp management] camps but also other displacement
"Approaches to distribution,
registration, security. etc. are being harmonized to ensure that all
IDPs in various situations of displacement are treated equally,"
RI is making the case for the "the activation
of a national-level CCCM cluster to jointly address the needs of
displaced persons living in CCCM camps as well as those living in
spontaneous settlements and with host families" [
]. In some countries, humanitarian actors working within a particular
field, such as shelter or health, coordinate their activities through
]. CCCM activities in the DRC are handled by a "working group"
under the larger protection cluster.
Kpandji said that
although the CCCM working group has been working "very much like
a cluster", it lacks access to funding mechanisms available to
clusters, such as the Central Emergency Response Fund [
] and pooled funds.
In January, the International Organization
for Migration (IOM) joined UNHCR in coordinating spontaneous sites in
"Little is done for IDPs outside the formal
camps, which is why IOM has developed a strategy to care for IDPs in
spontaneous sites and those living with host communities," said
Laurent de Boeck, chief of IOM's mission in the DRC.
has a three-tier approach to IDPs outside the camps: understanding
and registering the people displaced using a displacement tracking
matrix; analyzing the pull-push factors leading to displacement, and
assessing the ability of host families to cope with crisis; and,
based on the needs, deliver the immediate needs of the IDPs
[including] food and non-food items, and encourage other humanitarian
actors to help as well.
"Finally, we aim to build the
resilience of the IDPs, both where they are and in their places of
origin - when and if return is safe. We aim to create durable
solutions, whether this means insertion into host communities, return
back to their places of origin or. formal re-localization," he
Addressing the risks
De Boeck noted that
displacement from one community to another could create tensions and
make host communities vulnerable to possible insecurity.
said access and identification of host families was particularly
difficult. "Often both the displaced and the host families are
vulnerable so there is a dilemma on who to focus on," he
"One risk for UNHCR and partners is encouraging the
creation of collective sites in areas with insufficient/inadequate
conditions to provide effective protection and assistance," said
"Contingency plans in the province should be
updated regularly to ensure that suitable reception areas are
identified in advance, and that the humanitarian community is
prepared," he added. "Close cooperation with authorities -
who should identify land for displacement sites in advance - should
According to De Boeck, there is also a
need for better harmonization between national humanitarian policy
and regional implementation.
"In the overall approach,
there is a misunderstanding between Kinshasa and the provincial
level. Efforts are focused very much on North Kivu, with no
systematic approach in other provinces," he said. "There
are good initiatives by the government, i.e., the ministerial and
national policy on development as well as a new governmental decree
giving the Ministry of Humanitarian Action a coordination role. This
needs to be reflected at the provincial level."
"There is a need to dialogue with the population to better
understand their needs and how to meet them."
also pointed out the need to develop the agencies' ability to rapidly
evaluate and respond to displacement, "in particular with
regards to child protection and support to community-based protection
"Funding is a major
challenge. We are really advocating for increased funding for IOM and
UNHCR, as well as for OCHA's US$30.5 million [
] request to cover the basic needs of IDPs in North Kivu," said
"Our needs are $13 million over 12 months, and we
will have $4 million before the end of the month, allowing us to work
for six months. This is all for our work in North Kivu," said de
Boeck. "We will also be appealing for funds for our operations
in Province Orientale and South Kivu."
remains an issue. Sure, it is important, but equally as important -
and arguably more important - is the end of fighting, an end to these
sporadic bouts that prevent access and [hinder] aid organizations'
work," said one aid worker, who preferred anonymity. "Money
without access does not get us anywhere."
This report online:
Militias in Masisi
6 March 2013 (IRIN) - The process of integrating armed groups into
the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) army, FARDC, has stalled
again amid heavy fighting at a base where hundreds of combatants had
The clashes, which started in Kitchanga,
North Kivu Province, could jeopardize community reconciliation across
much of the province's Masisi territory, which saw outbreaks of
ethnic violence in 2012.
In this briefing, IRIN looks at
armed group integration and community pacification in eastern DRC and
asks how these processes might develop in Masisi and elsewhere in the
What has happened in Kitchanga?
fighting broke out on 24 February between FARDC and the Alliance of
Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) militia, and
continued until 27 February. It broke out again on March 3; as of 5
March, at least 70 people had been killed and thousands displaced
from their homes.
Between 500 and 700 APCLS combatants
are believed to have been in Kitchanga, alongside a regiment of about
1,000 FARDC soldiers. The combatants had been sent by their
commander, Janvier Bwingo Karairi, who was negotiating with the army
over the possible integration of his forces.
says discussions broke down over the murder of an APCLS officer and
attempts by the APCLS to attack ethnic Tutsi living in a displacement
camp, who they alleged were hiding weapons. A witness to the
fighting, Samson Ndako, said many houses in Kitchanga were burned as
the fighters targeted each other's communities. The APCLS are largely
ethnic Hunde, and many soldiers in the town are Hutu or Tutsi.
Most of the town's estimated 120,000 inhabitants have
fled towards Tongo in the northwest.
Why are these
latest clashes significant?
There is fighting between
the FARDC and armed groups in many parts of DRC, but Masisi is a key
area for political and strategic reasons. Tensions within this
densely populated territory have repeatedly sparked or fuelled wars.
The area straddles an ethnic fault line between
Banyarwanda people, who have Rwandan ancestry and include the Hutu
and Tutsi, and other so-called "indigenous" communities,
such as the Hunde, Nyanga, Tembo and Nande.
the violence [
] in Masisi was worse than at any time since the 1990s, contributing
to the displacement of up to half a million people in North Kivu.
That violence died down in December, when Hutu, Hunde
and other armed groups agreed to a ceasefire. There was even a plan
for APCLS's Janvier to take command of other armed groups and
shepherd them into a mass integration into the army. That idea may
now be shelved or abandoned.
Masisi is also at the
frontline of the stand-off with the M23 rebels, who control most the
neighbouring territory of Rutshuru.
What is the risk of
a return to ethnic violence in Masisi?
The fighting in
Kitchanga is not simply Hunde versus Hutu and Tutsi. Oxfam worker
Eddy Mbuyi told IRIN that elements of the Rwandan, Hutu-dominated
rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda(FDLR) have been
siding with the APCLS, and other local Hutu militias appear to be
neutral. Still, he said, there is virtually an ethnic war in
Kitchanga, and it threatens to spread.
towards reconciling Hutu, Hunde and other communities has been made
in recent months. Since December 2012, at least three large
pacification meetings have been held in the territory. The Jesuit
Refugee Service described a meeting on 5 February at Masisi Centre as
"historic" - it was the first time hundreds of Hunde and
Hutu combatants had met at such a gathering.
leaders of the APCLS and of the Hutu Force for the Defence of Human
Rights (FDDH) militias were present at that meeting, and in an
apparently strong gesture of solidarity, FDDH coordinator Emmanuel
Munyariba said the FDDH would take orders from APCLS's Janvier.
However, that solidarity may have been conditional on
good relations with the army (Munyamariba is also a local police
chief), and the FDDH is not the only Hutu militia, nor is it united -
three groups call themselves FDDH. In a recent Rift Valley Institute
report [ http://rvi.asilialtd.com/download/file/fid/1121
], Congo expert Jason Stearns [ http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/
] referred to 15 mostly Hutu splinter militias in the neighbouring
territory of Kalehe.
Reconciliation has a long way to
go in the villages. The NGO Concern found some villages in Masisi
still empty, and many formerly ethnically mixed villages are now
inhabited by only one ethnic group. Forty-five percent of the
villagers Concern interviewed said they had only just returned after
fleeing the recent violence, and many remain displaced.
absent from pacification meetings were representatives of the Tutsi
community. The research head for the North Kivu Civil Society
Association, Djento Maundu, said this was a major reason some
community chiefs have not attended the meetings.
is a serious risk of armed groups banding together against the Tutsi,
who are widely blamed for the M23 rebellion [
] although many Tutsi have died fighting alongside the rebels. Most
of the M23's senior officers are Tutsi, as are many generals in FARDC
who were integrated into the army after fighting for Rwandan-backed
Some complain that past peace
agreements have given the Tutsi too much power, and that they are
using it to defend their large land holdings and dominant role in the
Hunde elder and APCLS spokesman Kingi Mbayo
told IRIN on March 4 that the APCLS is not against the Tutsi, and has
some Tutsi in its ranks, including "Colonel" Philemon. He
also said Tutsi ranches have not come under attack in the past year,
which appears to be true.
But he added that many Tutsi
who claim to be Congolese refugees, whose return to their land is one
of the M23's demands, are not genuine Congolese, and called for more
pressure on the Congolese and Rwandan governments to address this
APCLS spokesman Jannot Makale Kale told IRIN on 4
March that the group would not leave Kitchanga but was willing to
coexist there with FARDC, which it still regards as its ally.
Where has this left the army integration process?
2012, the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) reported that
there were at least 31 armed groups in eastern DRC. The only large
militia to integrate into the army since 2009 was the Hutu Nyatura, a
group of around 1,000 fighters, now known as the Tango Four regiment.
MONUSCO has a list of 12 groups in North Kivu that have been in
MONUSCO lists nine of the armed
groups in North Kivu as pro-FARDC and only four as pro-M23. But the
list considers APCLS a pro-FARDC group, so it may need updating. Even
so, the APCLS's hostility to the Tutsi means an alliance with the M23
The M23 is believed to include some 3,000
fighters, while the Congolese army may have deployed some 20,000
against them. The other armed groups in North Kivu cumulatively have
several thousand fighters.
Without significant armed
support, the M23 will have difficulty advancing far from the Rwandan
border. The proposed deployment of drones [
] to monitor the border will put them under further pressure.
M23 also has serious internal divisions. Two M23 factions, one led by
Bosco Ntaganda and the other by Sultani Makenga, were fighting at the
end of last month, allowing FARDC and allies to move into the M23
zone before withdrawing again on March 3.
groups that MONUSCO lists as pro-M23 are generally smaller than the
pro-FARDC groups, so the odds seemed to be stacked against the
movement. By June, it could also be facing a possible reinforcement
of MONUSCO - which has some 17,000 peacekeepers - by a South African
Development Community-led neutral international force of up to 4,000
soldiers with a more robust mandate.
Where next for
integration and pacification?
Spokesmen for armed groups
like the APCLS, FDDH and Movement of Action for Change (MAC) have
told IRIN that the reason they have not yet joined the army is
because it has been infiltrated by the M23. There is widespread
suspicion that Tutsi officers within FARDC are M23 sympathizers, and
militia members will be reluctant to join the army if they think the
senior ranks are dominated by a hostile community.
government negotiations with the M23 have been ongoing since
December. The government is trying to avoid reintegrating senior M23
officers; it has offered to reintegrate all ranks up to major and to
treat colonels and above on a case-by-case basis, offering some of
them "retirement packages". MONUSCO supports this
If a deal is reached with the M23, the army
might try to deal with the region's other armed groups by force, with
the help of MONUSCO. A military source said the SADC-led troops would
probably conduct some operations against the FDLR, some of whose core
leadership was involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
a letter published on 12 February, 19 mostly international NGOs
called for "non-military solutions to [the] conflict. based on
the failure so far of military action to fully address the presence
of non-state armed groups and the negative impact of such action on
the civilian population".
But militia commanders'
ambitions may not be limited to integration in the army. For
instance, the territory of APCLS's Janvier's is rich in high-grade
cassiterite, which has been largely unexploited.
Maundu suggests that a key to peace could be establishing which
people are the real stakeholders in the mines, and then encouraging
the mines' exploitation by demobilized militias.
[END] This report online:
poverty of the DRC's gold miners
29 January 2013 (IRIN) - There is no refuge from the blistering heat
at this artisanal gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC). Any trees that might have provided shade have been consumed by
the mine, which covers an area the size of five or six football
About a thousand people - men, women and some
children - swarm across the open-cast mine near Iga-Barrière, about
25km east of Bunia, the administrative town of the Ituri Region.
The scene has all the trappings of a 19th century gold rush,
apart from the hum of diesel generators powering pumps to drain water
from the open shafts, while hawkers sell drinking water in
translucent plastic bags.
Mtsajme, 21, has worked as an
artisanal gold miner for more than half his life. "I have grown
up in the job," he told IRIN. "I started as a child when I
left school at eight. It is all that I have known."
his stint at this mine finishes, Mtsajme will move to another. "There
are too many [gold mines] to count [in Ituri]. One is born and one
dies every day," he said.
Since the discovery of gold in
1903 along the banks of the Agola River, gold mining has been part of
the territory's economic lifeblood. It is more common to see people
carrying mining tools - plastic basins and long-handled spades - than
agricultural implements. Local NGOs put the numbers of artisanal gold
miners in Ituri between 130,000 and 150,000.
26, has just had his "best week" since starting as a gold
miner six years ago. He made US$100, or the equivalent of two grams
way of life
mining is the main activity of the majority of people in this area,
people are not used to farming. There are so many hills here. When
one gold mine is finished, we move onto another hill somewhere,"
Josue told IRIN.
Women, some with babies strapped to their
backs, form human chains to pass plastic basins of mud from men
excavating the shafts. They all work 13 hour days, six days a week.
Some earn as little as US$0.21 a day.
It can take up to three
weeks to dig, by hand, an 8m-deep shaft to where the gold-bearing
sands lie at Iga-Barrière. Narrower shafts requiring less work carry
Josue says that if cracks appear on a shaft's
wall, it must be dug wider to make it stable. "I have worked on
gold mines where the shafts have collapsed and people have been
A stake at the artisanal gold mine costs about
$250, or five grams of gold, and is paid to the Société des Mines
d'Or de Kilo Moto (SOKIMO), a public company, which was previously a
SOKIMO is a relic from Belgium, the former
colonial power. Created in 1926, the company enjoyed boom years
during the 1960s and 1970s, employing about 6,000 people and
providing housing, clinics and schools for its employees. However,
its nationalization in 1966 by then-Zaire's President Mobuto
Sese-Seko, who used the company to support his lavish lifestyle,
eventually took a toll.
By the late 1980s, the company's only
source of revenue was the taxing of artisanal and small-scale miners.
Makuza Boniface, SOKIMO director at Iga-Barrière, told IRIN the
company imposes a 30 percent tax on all gold produced at the site by
the artisanal miners.
After 15 years of gold mining, Lobho
Faustin, 30, cannot afford his own claim. He is part of a group of
eight diggers, earning a wage to support his three children.
a job to live and survive on. How much money you make depends on how
lucky you are. Sometimes I get $50 in a week and sometimes nothing.
You can work for weeks and not get paid. I work for someone else. But
it all depends. If we find gold then we get paid. There is nothing
else to do," he said.
work of the artisanal gold miners in Ituri is not reflected in
official production figures, and in recent years gold production has
declined as the gold price has soared.
Eric Yanba Kitene, of
Bunia's Centre for Evaluation d'Expertise et de Certification (CEEC),
a government organization that provides technical assistance and
determines gold purity, told IRIN that in the last six months of
2009, 83kg was officially produced in Ituri. In 2010, 115kg was
produced. In 2011, this dropped to 58kg, and production up until
November 2012 was 16kg.
Meanwhile, gold is being smuggled
across the borders by gold dealers exploiting a tax loophole, Kitene
said, to maximise profits.
In 2012, DRC reduced its gold tax
for traders from 3.5 percent to 2 percent. Neighbouring Rwanda and
Uganda have gold tax rates of between 0.5 percent and 1 percent,
The percentage differential may appear small,
but it was enough, Kitene said, to ensure that "maybe 5 to 10
tons of gold is smuggled annually," across international
borders, mainly to Rwanda and Uganda.
The solution to prevent
gold smuggling would be to introduce "uniform regional gold tax
rates and allow gold traders to legally export gold," he said.
Toto Bosingaka, the chief of the Service d'Assistance et
d'Encadrement d'Artisanal (SAESSCAM), told IRIN gold traders have to
be Congolese and pay an annual fee to government of $150. In Bunia,
he said, there were about 30 to 35 registered gold traders, and about
800 in Ituri overall, excluding an unknown number of unlicensed
SAESSCAM was established in 2002 and tasked with providing
assistance and training to the country' artisanal mining sector, but
it has been woefully underfunded by government.
who is responsible for four of Ituri's five territories - Djugu,
Irumu, Mahagi and Aru, but not Mambasa - said, "We have a
problem of transport and equipment. We have no vehicle, no car, no
motorbike and no bicycle."
They have a mandate to ensure
adherence to the Mining Code for artisanal miners, and have 10 agents
for the four territories, but Bosingaka said the organization was
"not really in touch with miners. We work with the gold
Artisanal miners face an array of occupational
hazards, including: mercury inhalation while extracting gold from
ore; tunnel and open-shaft mine collapses; women experiencing
spontaneous abortions due to heavy labour; and the complete absence
of water and sanitation facilities.
"Health and safety
is set down in the Mining Code, but most miners don't seem to care.
It is very difficult to prosecute people as most are not educated and
many were in militias during the war," Bosingaka said.
elsewhere in the eastern DRC, Ituri encountered a succession of
international and local conflicts, and a variety of militias and
foreign national armies imposed their own taxation system on the
artisanal gold miners. During the Second Congo War, for example, a
conflict between the agriculturalist Lendu and pastoralist Hema
emerged and lasted until 2007.
Although Ituri has returned to
relative peace, gaining access to Iga-Barrière requires passing
through numerous roadblocks staffed by security forces and government
officials, who impose random "road taxes" on vehicles and
A November 2012 report, Conflict Gold to
Criminal Gold, published by Southern Africa Resource Watch, said [
] that for artisanal miners, the peace dividend has not provided any
respite from a culture of backhander payments.
while the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale miners continues,
the identity of those responsible has now changed. They are no longer
warlords and militia leaders but government administrators, members
of the government's military and security organizations, and many
regional traders," the report said.
Fuarwingo, coordinator of the artisanal miner organization the
Association Exploit dans Mineur Artisnal pur le pacification et
reconstruction Ituri (AEMAPRI), told IRIN, "Sometimes
authorities harass miners and make them pay for small things to let
them work. They can make people very angry and demand as much as
"They ask for non-existent certificates, like
'scientific training' and 'expertise in mining'. They just create
such lists to pick money from the miners. Police come to the mining
camp and go to the mine boss and then all the miners have to
Ndele Tanzi, coordinator for the
Bunia-based NGO Honesty and Peace told IRIN gold mining was a major
threat to peace and stability. "The Ituri war was cast as an
ethnic war, but if you look carefully it was about resources."
Gold is not the only mineral that the territory possesses. It
also has, but has yet to commercially exploit, coltan, cobalt,
wolframite and cassiterite among other minerals; a similar collection
of valuable ores have encouraged and sustained conflict in DRC's Kivu
"Problems always exist on the mines,"
Tanzi said, "and not all weapons were taken back after the war,
and many of the miners used to be members of militias. There is anger
[on the mines]. "
go/rz [END] This report online:
Small steps to land reform in eastern DRC
29 January 2013 (IRIN) - Shukuru Rudahunga, in North Kivu Province of
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), keeps a wary eye on the steep
slope above her as she weeds her patch of sorghum; she knows the
risks are deadly.
Landslides have killed several people
in nearby Kinsati, 40km from the city of Goma.
it's been raining and I see the earth breaking up, I stop working and
get off the hillside," she told IRIN.
washes away seeds, plants and soil fertility. Villagers know that to
protect against soil loss, they should fallow the steeper slopes
after just a few seasons.
But "we don't do it
because there isn't enough land", Shukuru said.
over-cultivation has also resulted in plummeting yields. Teacher
Gabriel Hanyurwa remembers that, in the 1980s, farmers harvested 20
sacks of beans per hectare on land that now yields only six to eight
The land shortage results in part from population
growth and in part from the expansion of cattle ranches.
the ranchers brought their cattle here, we haven't had enough
fields," Hanyurwa said.
"The ranchers prefer
to put their cattle in the same places that we want to cultivate,"
another villager, Therese Tusali, said.
In a 2010 paper,
'Land, Power and Identity: Roots of violent conflict in Eastern DRC'
], author Chris Huggins noted that recent decades have seen "massive
alienation of land held under custom" in the Kivus in favour of
Residents in Kinsati and elsewhere have
had little say in this process.
disputes are key drivers of conflict in eastern DRC, and they hinder
development across the country. Some researchers [
] argue that agrarian conflict, rooted in issues of land rights and
citizenship, is the principal cause of the Kivu region's wars.
Population density, colonization and large-scale
migration from Rwanda have all made access to land a critical issue
in North and South Kivu. A corrupt judiciary and a flawed land law
compound the problem.
In his 2007 book, From Genocide
to Continental War, Gerard Prunier describes the extent of "land
grabbing" during the presidency of Mobutu Sese Seko as
"incredible", citing the attempt by one businessman in 1980
to take control of 230,000 hectares; the average land holding was
less than one hectare.
Land grabs, particularly from
displaced communities, have continued amid the wars of the past two
decades, and the prospect of an eventual land commission that might
investigate these transfers has been a "sustaining factor in
conflict", Huggins has argued [
their work resettling displaced communities, aid agencies have become
involved in mediating land disputes. UN Habitat runs the largest of
these programmes. In 2012, its three mediation centres in the region
identified 1,690 land conflicts and resolved 641 of them.
conference in Belgium in September 2012 reviewed donors'
interventions in eastern DRC's land problems; most of the spending
had been on mediation. Koen Vlassenroot, who convened the meeting,
says it was agreed that "mediation only seems to have an impact
on conflicts between individual farmers; once larger players such as
big landowners or army commanders are involved it's very, very
Conference participants were also concerned
that mediation projects had "an acute lack of coherence,
coordination", and sustainability.
Vlassenroot noted that
there are two other main interventions to help resolve land issues:
assisting the registration of land claims - which has had "limited
results" and involves "all sorts of problems" - and
locally driven efforts by farmers' organizations to work on a land
A report by International Alert [
] highlights local efforts by the Forum of the Friends of the Earth
(FAT) and the Federation of Congolese Agricultural Producers'
Organizations (FOPAC), whose success in lobbying for the integration
of key issues in the new agricultural code offers "a grounded
approach to peace-building". These interventions have had much
less support from donors.
Lobbying by FAT and FOPAC led to the
inclusion in the agricultural code of a provision for the mediation
of land disputes, as well provisions for identifying and reallocating
unused concessions and greater representation of "peasants",
or agricultural workers, in local decision-making. However, the
government has yet to agree on implementation measures for the new
take on land law
organizations are currently advocating reform of the land law, which
fails to define customary land rights. Chiefs were legally stripped
of their traditional land allocation powers in 1975, but many
continue to exercise them.
FAT and FOPAC have held
consultations with farmers' organizations in several provinces,
including a forum in Goma, North Kivu Province, in October 2012. At
the forum, many recommendations were put forward for improving the
land law, such as ending land registry officials' immunity from
prosecution for "mistakes", publicizing details of unjust
land transfers and revealing the ownership of unused land
But none of these politically sensitive
recommendations figured in the FOPAC newsletter, which recorded only
that participants had called for customary chiefs to respect their
predecessors' land allocations, for taxes on title deeds to be
reduced and for tenancy documents issued by chiefs to have legal
status. No vote appeared to have been taken on these or the other
Simplexe Malembe, coordinator of FAT, told
IRIN that if the government is to give legal status to land
allocations by chiefs, it should see that each chief is accompanied
by an advisory committee representative of the community. "That
principle is already in the constitution," he said, "and we
are trying to implement it through the agricultural law. But the
government and the land registry don't like it because it takes away
a good part of their revenue."
Participants at the forum
agreed that the peasant associations need to strengthen their
representation at the local level and their communications with
The International Alert report recommends
"bottom-up dialogue" to find local solutions and promote
peace-building. Malembe agrees: "In the peasant movement, the
dialogue needs to be from the base to the summit as well as from the
summit to the base."
who broadcasts for FOPAC, told IRIN he would like to include more
phone-in programmes in his broadcasts, a "bottom-up" format
popularized by the UN's Radio Okapi in DRC, so that rural people can
share their views on the problems in their communities; currently,
the only two-way communication broadcast by FOPAC on the radio is
about agricultural prices.
good news, says Vlassenroot, is that the government appears willing
to address land issues nationwide. At a workshop in Kinshasa in July,
the government and UN Habitat worked out a "road map" for
reform of the land law and land governance.
The deputy cabinet
director at the land affairs ministry, Albert Paka, spoke to IRIN
last month about the reform process. He agrees the government needs
to hasten reform by taking the first step on the road map: appointing
a steering committee to coordinate work on the process.
determining who rightfully owns land, and even who is permitted to
own land, will be a major hurdle. The new agricultural code, for
example, limits foreigners' share of DRC farmland investments to 49
percent; Paka confirmed that the government intends to revise this
clause. Revision of the clause will likely be a precondition for new
foreign investments in DRC agriculture.
Paka said DRC might
go the way of other countries and buy up customary land, hinting that
such land could be sold to foreign investors. Further research will
be required before any decisions can be made, he said.
with the chiefs and understanding local customs will also be
critical, he told IRIN. "In some parts of the country,
land belongs to the chiefs, whereas in other parts it belongs to the
community, and they are merely arbiters of land rights."
Huggins's research suggests chiefs' ownership claims
tend to be strongest in the most densely populated areas, where land
shortages are most acute. Government land purchases in these areas
for resale to foreign investors could therefore be highly
"Recognition of customary chiefs will be
the cornerstone of land governance," Paka stressed.
if there would be safeguards against unjust decisions by traditional
chiefs, Paka said that if the chiefs were to be recognized as land
custodians they would be part of the administration, and would be
guided by its technical experts, whose capacity needs to be
reinforced. He declined to speculate on how land administration might
change if government at the chiefdom-level is democratized.
indicated that government intervention will be necessary to help DRC
reach its agricultural potential. Even though land shortages are a
concern, he pointed out that a recent study showed 73 percent of
agricultural land around Kinshasa is unused.
National Confederation of Agricultural Producers in the Congo told
IRIN that most of the land around Kinshasa is unused because it has
been bought up by speculators in anticipation of biofuel
nl/kr/rz [END] This report online:
riches a curse for civilians in northeast DRC
23 January 2013 (IRIN) - For the past 10 months, a little-known
conflict in a marginalized corner of northeast Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) has left a trail of killing, abduction, rape and forced
displacement, with few signs of an imminent resolution.
epicentre of the conflict is a vast forest reserve covering some
13,700sqkm in Orientale Province. Home to and named after a rare
giraffid mammal, the Okapi Forest Reserve (RFO), a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, has long been a source of tension because of its rich
wildlife, timber and mineral resources.
The man most
frequently associated with the recent violence is Paul Sadala, better
known as Morgan. He is variously portrayed as the head of a gang of
poachers, the leader of a militia group known as Mai-Mai Simba, a
serial abuser of human rights, and a Robin Hood-type champion of
local inhabitants who benefit little from the reserve's riches and
who are rarely consulted about its management.
army, FARDC, has engaged Morgan and his men on several occasions
since March 2012 - sometimes with the support of troops and air
assets of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). But
FARDC troops themselves have also been accused of looting and abusing
the rights of civilians.
One humanitarian worker based in
Orientale Province told IRIN that FARDC soldiers had arrested and
abused women who had escaped abduction by Morgan's men.
latest clashes took place when Morgan and his men overran the town of
Mambasa for a few hours on 5 January, before being chased out by
FARDC and MONUSCO troops. A week later, FARDC announced that it had
also dislodged Morgan's men from locations in the mining regions of
Pangoy and Elota in Mambasa Territory.
the past 10 months, around 32,000 people have fled their homes during
attacks by Morgan's group or its clashes with FARDC. In many cases,
the displacement was temporary.
During this period, some
3,000 women were abducted by Morgan's group and used as sex slaves,
according to Abdalah Pene Mbaka, a local member of parliament.
mid- November, 15 people arrived for treatment at the Mambasa health
centre, recalled Rachidi Salimini, who manages a local radio station.
"They had horrific injuries: raped women with burning wood
inserted into their sexual organs, men with their ears cut off, men
with their stomachs burned," Salimini said.
abducted by the militia and rescued during a FARDC action in August
spoke to IRIN in late 2012 about her ordeal: "We were lined up
by the dozen and raped one by one. We found ourselves in the same
lines with our daughters. One woman was stabbed in the thigh as she
was resisting; others were stabbed in the vagina."
women who were raped had no timely access to post-exposure
prophylaxis, which minimizes the risk of HIV infection, according to
another humanitarian worker.
Other security incidents
involving Morgan's group, reported by Radio Okapi [
http://radiookapi.net ], which
is run by MONUSCO and the Fondation Hirondelle, include:
2012 - A hundred families fled their homes in Babwasende Territory,
fearing attacks by a group of poachers led by Morgan, whom the army
had driven out of a nearby forest.
May 2012 - Thirty women
were raped in the village of Molende, south of Bunia, the main town
in Orientale Province. A week earlier, 26 people were killed and
5,000 fled from several villages amid clashes between the army and
24 June 2012 - Militiamen killed 12 people and
looted administrative buildings in the village of Epulu, in the Okapi
reserve. Twenty-eight people were abducted during the attack. The
dead included two rangers working with the Congolese Institute for
the Conservation of Nature (ICCN). According to the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the attack was carried
out by "poachers in retaliation against enforcement by the ICCN
of laws protecting elephants, okapis and other species, and
prohibiting illegal mining and other activities destructive of the
ecological integrity of the RFO," IUCN added that some of the
FARDC troops responding to the incident "were involved in
looting and ransacking of facilities."
13 August 2012 - At least 60 people died in a landslide in
the area of Pangyoi, about 360km south of Bunia, while working in an
artisanal gold and coltan mine under the control of Morgan.
November 2012 - In an attack attributed to Morgan's group, residents
of Leleis and Muzaimbwa villages in Mambasa Territory were burned
alive, women were raped and some victims had their ears cut
had been captured by Morgan in Epulu," said one of those
abducted, who was among 16 released in early July.
family, he took my little girl, aged 13 years, my wives and I. We
travelled for six days. On the seventh day, we were freed. But they
kept 11 women, among them one of my wives. They raped my daughter,"
he said, requesting not to be identified by name.
to Capt Vicky Kabosongo, the military prosecutor in Irumu Territory,
Morgan faces charges of committing international crimes, including
rape, massacre and looting. Although Morgan himself remains at large,
14 of his men have been detained at a military court in
"Morgan lives in the forest, actually the jungle.
He behaves like a king; he does whatever he wants, when he wants,
without people knowing," said Jean Bosco Lalo, who coordinates
civil society groups in Bunia.
Assessment of, and response to,
the humanitarian situation in affected areas has been hampered by
access, security and funding constraints.
"For sure there
is no means of finding out the exact humanitarian situation in
several villages in the forest," David Larue, the area
coordinator of the NGO Solidarités, told IRIN in late 2012.
cannot get there by car. Furthermore, there is a risk with the
missions. They [the militia] do not distinguish between the NGOs, the
UN and MONUSCO," he said.
"We need to adopt a
multi-sectoral approach and go a little bit deeper into the root
causes and increase the involvement of the government to achieve a
long term solution," said Francesca Fraccaroli, who heads the
Bunia branch of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
"The presence of the state in many areas
is mostly non-existent. They are already structurally vulnerable,
especially with regard to water and sanitation. So unless
humanitarian assistance moves ahead in parallel with community
resilience and recovery and an increase in the presence of the state,
we will just have a temporary solution," she told IRIN on 18
For Dismas Kitenge, a prominent human rights activist
in DRC, the absence of the state is just one of the factors
contributing to the violence in Mambasa Territory.
driver "is the complicity of the authorities and security
services in the exploitation of natural resources and anarchic
circulation of weapons of war", he said during a discussion of
the crisis broadcast by Radio Okapi in November [
"This creates frustration and creates revolts. There
is also a denial of indigenous people's rights to manage their own
natural resources and a lack of transparency by the government and
those who exploit the mines and forests. The local population doesn't
understand anything, because they see people and companies turn up
and don't know what they are doing, so they feel abandoned," he
"What's true about Morgan, although I do not
condone the rise of his militia, is that he is the messenger for the
grievances for people who see him as a real leader. People believe
that the environment, the flora and fauna, get lots of attention and
the people get none," he said.
rp/pc/am/rz [END] This report
for Angolans stripped of refugee status in DRC
22 January 2013 (IRIN) - Some 40,000 former Angolan refugees in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are living in limbo, unwilling to
go home but lacking legal status in DRC.
In June 2012, it was
determined that the circumstances - created by a civil war - that led
to refugee status being granted to tens of thousands of Angolans were
no longer in place. Under the terms of the 1951 Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees, this means that there is no longer a prima
facie case for international protection. In short, the refugee status
of these Angolans was revoked.
Individuals are still able to make
a fresh application for refugee status based on their specific
Recognizing that local integration is
one of the recognized "durable solutions" for refugees -
the others being voluntary repatriation and third-country
resettlement - the DRC government agreed to grant permanent residency
permits to all the Angolans who did not wish to return to
But the government did not manage to distribute the
required 40,000 permits by the planned deadline of the end of 2012,
so many of the Angolans now lack legal identity documents.
such large numbers of Angolan refugees still dispersed across DR
Congo provinces, it will take some time for all former refugees to be
issued with resident permits," Stefano Severe, UNHCR's regional
coordinator, told IRIN in Kinshasa.
"So far we have
assisted the DR Congo government in funding over 6,500 permits, which
have been printed and will be distributed during this January...
Local authorities are well aware that this is still ongoing, and the
National Refugee Commission is represented in all provinces," he
of the former refugees are from Angola's oil- and mineral-rich
northern exclave of Cabinda, which has experienced a long-running
conflict that pits the government against secessionists.
welcomed the end of our refugee status with sadness. I'm worried to
live at the moment without any status, not knowing who will protect
me and my family. We were told that we could receive asylum-seekers'
status by the host country's authorities. So far, we've got nothing,"
said one former refugee, who preferred anonymity.
I can be arrested and be labelled as one of the gangsters in Kinshasa
known as 'Kuluna' and won't have anyone to defend me."
23,000 Angolans returned home under a repatriation programme UNHCR
carried out in 2012 - the fourth since the Angolan civil war ended in
2002 - before the June revocation of their refugee status. Another
22,000 say they are willing to go home. Most were repatriated to the
"The last repatriation was based upon
agreements between Angola, the UNHCR and the host countries when it
was established that Angola had regained the stability [required] and
its economy was prospering, especially as the majority of its
refugees had returned to their home country," said
from Cabinda say they continue to live in fear, and accuse Angolan
security forces of entering DRC and other neighbouring countries to
kidnap those believed to be linked to the province's rebel groups,
some of which have been fighting for independence from Angola for
"I continue to live with fear because if you
have a Cabindan name, it means you are considered by Angolan
authorities as a rebel. Recently a friend of mine was kidnapped when
he went to trade near the DRC-Angola border," said Alfred Gomez,
a 48-year-old refugee and former school teacher originally from
Cabinda, now living in Kinshasa.
"In October 2011, we
went into hiding for two weeks when we received information from our
homeland that Angolan security agents had been deployed to western
Congo to kidnap people of Cabindan origin," he said. "We
looked for safety from Congolese friends until we established that
they [security agents] had returned [to Angola]."
to reach Angolan authorities were unsuccessful.
refugees are reluctant to return home, either because they support
the secessionist movement or because they fear they will be pressured
to pick a side once they return.
"Some are not activists,
but they are former fighters of the FLEC [Front for the Liberation of
the Enclave of Cabinda, the main Cabindan secessionist group],"
Jose Vase, a Cabindan journalist based in Kinshasa, told
"Others are regular citizens who cannot go back
home. This is because when they do so, they will be obliged by
Angolan local authorities to make statements against rebel groups,
showing also the goods things the government is doing for
returnees... When they do it, they are considered as enemies [of
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