By Guest Contributor Scott Morgan
The instability in one of Africa’s most restive regions continues unabated. While most governments have been focused on the Tigray crisis within Ethiopia or the border row between Kenya and Somalia, the situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) seems to have fallen off the radar but still remains strife torn.
Although the conflict in the East formally ended back in 2003, small-scale militia attacks still occur in the Ituri and Kivu Provinces. Often attribution for attacks that take place is difficult due to the number of active groups still in the region.
One group that has operated in the region since the end of the Congo Wars is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). This group, which originally took to the field to oppose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, has found sanctuary in the Eastern DRC despite the actions of the Congolese Army and UN Peacekeepers.
As a result, when the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) issued a report on events in the Eastern DRC for the second half of 2020, the numbers are quite suprising. The numbers include 468 civilians that were killed and 457 others that are considered to be missing after 313 documented incidents. This is a substantial increase from the only 173 incidents that were documented during the first half of the year.
The increase has also attracted the attention of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR). In a press release issued the same day as the UNJHRO report, OHCHR warned of the potential that crimes against humanity were taking place in the region.
Although they are not listed in the figures compiled by the UN, there have been specific attacks against houses of worship as well. Attacks against Churches were reported last October in Lisasa resulting in the desecration of a Catholic Church, and in Baeti resulting in the deaths of dozens of other villagers. Another ADF raid in the waning days of November and early 2021 resulted in the deaths of an additional 30 Christians.
There are several key facts to point out. These attacks have continued despite a change of leadership in the DRC. Former DRC President Joseph Kabila was criticized for his inability to rein in the violence that plagues the East. How much longer will the West remain silent over the inability of current President Felix Tshishsekedi to end the conflict and restore a presence in the region?
The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) units that are deployed in the region and other security forces often have a slow response time. They have also been accused of complicity in allowing some attacks to occur as well. The Administration of President Tshishekedi has undertaken efforts to reform FARDC but it will be some time before these efforts produce any results.
The United States is in a position to assist. In recent days, a delegation from AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, visited Kinshasa to welcome the newly reestablished Security Partnership between the U.S. and the DRC. Although the pact is ninety days old it is imperative for the Biden Administration to provide the adequate resources to FARDC that will allow them to establish order in the region.
The people in the Eastern DRC have suffered enough for decades. It is way past time for peace and tranquility to take root.
Scott Morgan has been the President of Red Eagle Enterprises since its inception in November 2012. Currently based in Washington, D.C., he specializes in U.S. policy towards Africa, focusing on Security and Asymetrical Operations South of the Sahara. He provides content to Juicy Ecumenism, a project of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and to Firewatch Solutions, a blog that covers African Security Issues and to Dissecting Society. He also contributes to Vanguard Global Solutions. His Blog, Confused Eagle, can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com. His webpage can be found at: http://morganscott251.wix.com/redeagleenterprises.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of International Christian Concern or any of its affiliates.