MONUSCO facilitates peaceful cohabitation and social dialogue between the Babembe and Banyamulenge communities in the South-Kivu province

MONUSCO facilitates peaceful cohabitation and social dialogue between the Babembe and Banyamulenge communities in the South-Kivu province
10 Nov 2016

MONUSCO facilitates peaceful cohabitation and social dialogue between the Babembe and Banyamulenge communities in the South-Kivu province

Uvira, 10 November 2016 - The two communities situated in the territory of Fizi were largely represented in the two-day workshop. About 100 people took part in the workshop: local traditional leaders, chiefs of sectors, civil society actors, provincial parliamentarians from Uvira and Fizi, and provincial government officials. The South-Kivu provincial governor, Marcelin Cishambo brought along a dozen ministers to the workshop that took place in the Villa Ilac hotel in Uvira, organized with support from the United Nations stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, through its civil affairs section in Uvira and Bukavu. The purpose of the workshop was to contribute to conflicts resolutions, peaceful cohabitation and to get people to agree on the elementary rules on the management of transhumance in the territory of Fizi as well as in the hauts and moyens plateaux in Uvira and Itombwe.  This activity fits into MONUSCO’s mandate under the UNSC resolution 2277 requesting the UN Mission to support efforts for civilians’ protection in every respect. The chief of the MONUSCO sub-office, Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Mohamed, at the opening of the workshop, expressed the hope to see participants come up with productive, practical and concrete resolutions to address the problems raised. “We have already organized such meetings in the past. It is now high time for the people to raise people’s awareness to live at peace and in harmony,” he said. 

The two-day sessions gave the opportunities to the different actors to speak their minds. They reviewed the situation in Bijombo, situated in the hauts and moyens plateaux of Uvira where communities are accusing each other; the Banyamulenge combatants are accused of siding with the GUMINO group.  The Banyamulenge defend themselves and say it is the very Gumino militia members who are attacking them. A climate of distrust prevails in this locality. Murders and instability have set in.

In the territory of Fizi, collaboration between cattle breeders and residents, especially in Ngandja sector is often affected by the issue of transhumance. Cattle grazing space and peaceful cohabitation are serious issues. On top of those issues, there is deep mistrust and mutual intolerance between the Babembe and the Banyamulenge communities. Murders, killings, cattle lootings, shadow administrations are caused by armed groups who substitute themselves for state actors.

Each participant presented a list of conflicts. The traditional leaders called on the Banyamulenge from the hauts plateaux of Minembwe and the armed groups to stop provoking insecurity in the cattle grazing spaces. Their spokesperson, Ndahinda Karojo, voiced the hope to see such interactions proceed. On behalf of his community, he declared the following: “I am appealing to my Banyamulenge community to show love to other communities and to let our children marry with theirs. We shall convey this message to our populations everywhere in the hauts plateaux and the Ruzizi plain to bring them to comply with the principles for good cohabitation.”
On their part, the Babembe traditional leaders, affected by the transhumance issue in Fizi pledged they will urge their grassroots community members to respect the agreement signed between the two communities in 2010. “We appeal to all the villages chiefs to stop slaughtering the cattle and destroying the grazing areas so as to respect the agreement signed with the Banyamulenge,” said the spokesperson of the Babembe traditional chiefs, the Mwami Kasindi Kitongo, the grouping chief of the South Basimunyaka, in the Lulenge sector.

This workshop is the first step in a series of activities aiming social cohesion, set to start in a few months in the Ruzizi plain and the hauts and moyens plateaux of Uvira and Fizi between the different communities. The governor of the South Kivu province, Marcelin Cishambo said “there are big projects for the region. We have already US$ 7 million to invest in the Ruzizi plain for the purposes of cohesion. Nobody likes to put their money where there is war. We already have a project with the World Bank on farming (roughly US$ 67 million) in the area between Bukavu and Kalemie. No one will come to put the World Bank’s money in the conflict zones if we don’t work for peace!”

The chief of MONUSCO sub-office, Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Mohamed made an appeal to the representatives of the different communities in those terms: “without your involvement, peace cannot be reached. You should start by creating peace in your minds. It is your sincere commitment that will drive the other actors to indulge in the peace process. You are the first victims. Those who are not with you on the ground are the second. If you are daily exposed to harassments, to human rights violations, to all sorts of bullying, unfortunately, it is you and only you who can impose the peace even if the others are not willing to do so!”

Photos et Article : Fiston NGOMA/MONUSCO