Fallen Off The Radar, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Author & Background

Scott Morgan has been the President of Red Eagle Enterprises since its inception in November 2012.  Currently based in Washington, DC he specializes in US Policy towards Africa focusing on Security and Asymmetrical Operations South of the Sahara. He provides content to Juicy Ecumenism which is a project of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, Dissecting Society and to Firewatch Solutions which is a blog that covers African Security Issues. Scott also contributes to Vanguard Global Solutions.

Scott’s Blog Confused Eagle can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com His webpage can be found at:  http://morganscott251.wix.com/redeagleenterprises

 

Fallen Off The Radar, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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 the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) seems to have fallen off the radar but still remains torn with strife.

Although the conflict in the East formally ended back in 2003, Small scale militia attacks still occur in the Ituri and Kivu Provinces. Attribution for the attacks that take place is difficult due to the number of active groups 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 merged with the NALU (National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) took to the field to oppose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni back in 1989 and launched its first operations in 1995. The ADF is one of several groups that have found sanctuary in the Eastern DRC despite the actions of the Congolese Army and UN Peacekeepers.

When the UN Joint Human Rights Office issued a report on events in the Eastern DRC for the second half of 2020 the numbers jumped out.  The figures include 468 civilians killed and 457 others that are considered to be missing after 313 documented incidents. This is a substantial increase over the number of incidents (173) that were documented during the first half of the year.

The increase of incidents has also attracted the attention of the UN Human Rights Office. 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. In the past the actions of both the DRC Government and insurgent groups have been investigated by the International Criminal Court, leading to some convictions.

Although, not listed in the figures compiled by the UN there have been specific attacks against Houses of Worship. Attacks against Churches were reported in October  2020 in Lisasa resulting in the desecration of a Catholic Church and against the village of Baeti also resulted in the deaths of dozens of other villagers. Another raid by the group in the waning days of November and early 2020 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. Joseph Kabila was criticized for his inability to rein in the violence that plagued the East during his rule.  How much longer does the West remain silent over the inability of current President Felix Tshishsekedi to address and end the conflict and restore a presence in the region?

The FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) units that are deployed in the region and other security forces often have a slow response time.  FARDC has also been accused of complicity by allowing some attacks to occur. The Administration of President Tshishekedi has undertaken efforts to reform FARDC to increase the professionalism of the force, however it will be some time before these efforts produce results.

Meanwhile in the background, the UN Security Council has been gradually reducing the size of the mission since 2019. The current plan calls for the consolidation of the force into the Kivus and Ituri regions, by exiting two provinces this year and leaving the Tanganyika area by 2022. The Security Council has noticed a transition from Kablia to Tshishsekdi and has determined this is a positive step for the country.

The United States is in a position to provide assistance. Recently a delegation from AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) visited Kinshasa to welcome the newly reestablished Security Partnership between the US and the DRC.  Although the pact is only ninety days old it is imperative the Biden Administration provide adequate resources that allow FARDC to establish order in the region.

The people in the Eastern DRC have suffered enough for decades. It is time for peace and tranquility to take root.

 

Resources

Resources used for this analysis is available from the Author Scott Morgan, Scott may be reached at  scott.morgan@protonmail.com