Nord-Kivu : la MONUSCO évalue la situation sécuritaire dans le sud-Lubero en vue d’une réponse adaptée

North Kivu: MONUSCO has Assessed Security Situation in South Lubero in a bid to provide an appropriate response. Photo MONUSCO/Michael ALI

28 Jul 2020

Nord-Kivu : la MONUSCO évalue la situation sécuritaire dans le sud-Lubero en vue d’une réponse adaptée

Sy Koumbo S. Gali

The objective of the mission carried out by MONUSCO from 20 to 25 July 2020 was to get a clear picture of the security and humanitarian situations in the southern part of Lubero territory confronted with repeated inter-armed groups’ clashes over the past month and seek to provide an appropriate response.

MONUSCO delegation traveled through villages and towns, in particular Lubero, Luofu, Miriki, Kanyabayonga, Kirumba, Kamandi and discussed the prevailing situation with local actors.

For several months, armed groups’ coalitions have been fighting for the control of several villages of the Itala (Lubero) and Ikobo (Walikale) groupings. Those armed groups have been killing, kidnapping, looting and perpetrating other human rights violations. There has been a massive displacement of the population towards large agglomerations such as Kirumba and Kanyabayonga. According to the mayor of the Kanyabayonga commune, to date, more than 3,600 displaced households, or nearly 20,000 people, have gathered in Kanyabayonga commune. Most of them live with host families.

The situation of the displaced persons in the region is all the more serious as in Miriki, for example, when the delegation visited this territory on Wednesday, July 22, the village was burying its dead: 4 displaced people killed, said the local residents, due to malnutrition and lack of adequate care.

Dunga Resse, civil society leader in Kanyabayonga, stressed that the displaced are becoming a heavy burden for the population. “As you know, we are going through the coronavirus phase, the population are confined home, we rarely go to the farm. So when you have to take care of visitors who come from Kateku, Mbuavinywa, it weighs too much on our shoulder. Therefore, we are calling on the young people who are still active in these armed groups to surrender, so that the population may return home and life return to normal”.

Civil society actors called on MONUSCO to plead with humanitarian workers in their favor for appropriate assistance to be provided to the displaced persons.

Insecurity in the region poses another problem: mistrust among the populations who accuse some of them of letting their children join armed groups, having thus made themselves complicit in this insecurity. Such is the case in Kamandi where many women have fled the area accused of letting their children join armed groups.

Sella Katembo, the Administrative Secretary of Kamandi said she did not understand this reaction: “Women are suffering here. These young people who harrass the population in the farms, especially the Maï-Maï, are of course their children. Yet, no woman, no mother can send their children to join the militia to become a Maї-Maї ”. She called on the provincial and national authorities as well as MONUSCO to help put an end to all these negative forces "so that we may enjoy freedom, and be spared of such accusations in future."

Although the situation remains worrying, several surrenders were reported recently, thanks to the sensitization undertaken by the local authorities and the pressures from FARDC and MONUSCO forces on those armed groups. Last week at least 36 Maї-Maї fighters surrendered to FARDC in Kanyabayonga, with a total of 22 weapons. On July 19, three more volunteers from the Itala group, with a weapon, surrendered to MONUSCO in Kanyabayonga.

The civil society in Kirumba has called on the government to take care of these young people who have left armed groups: “The Congolese government should guide them. For cases requiring reintegration into the army, procedures must be complied with, and for cases in need of demobilization, support must be provided in terms of learning activities such as trade so that they can integrate into the community fearing that the young people may become a threat to the community, ” said Blessing Kambere, the civil society leader in Kirumba.

At the end of the mission, several other recommendations were formulated which all plead for reinforcement of the strength of the FARDC and MONUSCO peacekeepers in the area to contain, or even drive out these armed groups from the region so that civilians’ protection may become effective.

"All the recommendations formulated by members of the Local Protection Committees (LPC), civil society actors, local authorities, and in particular traditional leaders, the PNC, the FARDC will help MONUSCO bring appropriate responses that will contribute to improving the security situation and ensuring civilians’ protection in the south of Lubero ”, declared the head of the delegation, Alain Muongo, for MONUSCO Civil Affairs Section.