Three people from the Kivuye displacement site, which is supported by UN Refugee Agency, were kidnapped in raids carried out by an armed group.
Three people from the Kivuye displacement site, which is supported by UN Refugee Agency, were kidnapped in raids carried out by an armed group.

UN Refugee Agency troubled by atrocities in DRC

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Feb 17, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed concern about escalating atrocities committed by armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The attacks have become part of a systematic pattern to disrupt lives, instil fear and create havoc, the UN agency said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

A record of more than 2,000 civilians were killed in three eastern provinces last year in attacks mainly attributed to armed groups.

The violence has continued into this year. The most recent incident occurred in late January, when two men were killed and six others were seriously injured following an incursion into a site for forcibly displaced people in Masisi Territory, North Kivu province, UNHCR said.

Three people from the Kivuye displacement site, which is supported by the agency, were kidnapped in raids carried out by an armed group a week ahead of the attack, according to UNHCR spokesperson Babor Baloch.

The armed group has also imposed a curfew in the area and visits homes to force residents to make “security” payments.

“UNHCR and its partners have heard numerous testimonies from people who have survived this targeted violence. Between December 2020 and January 2021, at least seven incursions by armed groups into five different sites have been reported in Masisi Territory,” said Baloch.

In eastern DRC, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are supporting 22 sites, home to more than 88,000 displaced people. Thousands more are living in spontaneous sites or in host communities.

Baloch said these attacks by armed groups are carried out on the suspicion of collaboration with other groups or the Congolese security forces.

“Some of these sites are under threat from multiple armed groups. Civilians find themselves trapped in the middle of confrontations between different groups.”

UNHCR said it has also received reports of armed groups forcibly occupying schools and homes and attacking health centres. Some have also imposed illegal taxes on villagers who want to access their farms, thus cutting them off from their only source of food and income.

“While the Congolese army’s military operations against militia groups are more often successful than in the past, the armed forces do not have the capacity to maintain control of the areas they secure, thus leaving space for armed actors to reclaim those areas and to impose themselves on the local population,” said Baloch.

ANA

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