DRC (ITURI AND SOUTH KIVU)
We are alarmed by the increase in violence committed against civilians in Ituri and South Kivu, both located in the east
of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), due to the activity of armed groups and the inability of the security forces
to put an end to the violence. In recent months, this has resulted in a growing number of serious human rights abuses,
dozens of burned villages and thousands of people displaced.
The crises in the two provinces are unrelated, but have similar characteristics. Armed groups, largely based on ethnic
lines and sometimes in alliance with other groups, attack communities mainly to gain control of land and resources.
As recently as this past Tuesday 17 of September, 14 civilians were brutally killed and four wounded in Bukatsele in
Ituri province. The casualties included 11 children aged between seven months and 15 years old, all of whom were shot
dead and then decapitated. This attack against victims belonging to the Hema community is believed to have been
perpetrated by a Lendu armed group. The following day, another 12 civilians - three women and four children - were
killed in three different locations, including a camp for internally displaced people. The victims were all Hema.
These killings are just one of the latest in a long list of massacres in the territories of Djugu and Mahagi, Ituri
province. According to data collected by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in DRC*, since 1 June, at least 197 civilians
have been killed in Ituri in assaults believed to have been carried out by Lendu fighters. All the victims belonged to
the Hema or Alur communities. This number does not include the victims of attacks over the past week.
During the same period since 1 June, at least 51 victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence have been reported
In Ituri. Most of the victims were gang raped.
According to reports, while conducting military operations against Lendu fighters, security forces killed at least 17
Lendu civilians in what amounts to extrajudicial killings of civilians in reprisal for the actions of armed groups. This
is a matter of great concern.
In South Kivu the situation is also alarming, with a number of armed groups associated to various communities fighting
each other and carrying attacks against civilians. In the space of six days, from 8-14 September, at least eight
civilians were killed in the province.
The successive waves of violence have resulted in mass displacement. According to OCHA, at least 230,000 people have
been displaced in Ituri since June, and another 20,500 have been displaced in South Kivu. The great majority are living
in a dire humanitarian situation.
In Ituri, there is an alarming new trend in recent weeks of an increasing number of assaults by Lendu fighters targeting
Defence and Security Forces have so far been ineffective in preventing or putting an end to violence in both provinces.
Progress in bringing to justice those responsible for the human rights abuses has been slow. In most cases – especially
in South Kivu -- there is still a lack of accountability for the grave crimes committed against civilians.
We welcome President Félix Tshisekedi’s commitment to improve the human rights situation in the east of the country and
his offer for dialogue with rebels, and call on the DRC authorities, as a matter of urgency, to implement a serious
security strategy to resolve the multiple crises and protect civilians in the east. Such a strategy must of course take
full account of international human rights law, and ensure that whole communities are not collectively punished for the
actions of certain individuals or groups.
In addition, we call on the Government to spare no effort in addressing the prevailing root causes of the ongoing
intercommunal tensions and violence.