from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THE killing of at least 50 people by a militia group in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) highlights the worsening of one of the world’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises.
Victims, including women and children, were killed in an attack on Tuesday night at a site for internally displaced people in the Savo area of the Ituri Province.
Members of the so-called Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) – a loose association of various Lendu militia groups – are blamed for the incursion that injured 36 people.
They attacked an area, which is home to 600 000 displaced people.
Bintou Keita, head of the United Nations mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) condemned the attack.
After an exchange of gunfire, the peacekeepers and Congolese army have pushed the assailants out of Savo and secured the site housing refugees.
A spokesperson of António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, said humanitarian officials were reporting that insecurity was restricting access to affected areas by road.
“The delivery of humanitarian assistance is challenged,” he said.
The latest violence in Ituri is a tip of the iceberg.
Last week, the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) reported 6 989 cases of human rights violations in the country, although down nearly 12 percent from 2020.
Armed groups perpetrated around 60 percent of the violations with at least 2 024 civilians, including 439 women, victims of summary executions.
Besides CODECO, other significant armed groups include the Allied Democratic Forces and Mai Mai.
State agents, including the national army, police and other security agencies accounted for 35 percent of the violations, including the extrajudicial killings of least 40 civilians.
Last year, the government of President Félix Tshisekedi placed the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu under a “state of siege.”
The measure gives exceptional powers to the army and police.
Over 19,6 million people, in the country of 93,8 million people, in dire need of assistance.
Anarchy has shattered the former Zaire since independence from Belgium in 1960.
It plunged into crisis the same year, starting with a military mutiny by soldiers against their European officers, leading to rampant looting.
– CAJ News