More than 2000 civilians were killed in three provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2020 in attacks mostly attributed to armed rebel groups operating in the country.
According to Babar Baloch, a spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “In 2020, the partners of the UNHCR registered an unprecedented number of more than 2,000 civilians killed in the three provinces of the eastern DR Congo: 1,240 in Ituri, 590 in North Kivu and 261 in South Kivu.”
The UNHCR spokesperson said the organisation was alarmed by “the atrocities committed by armed groups which are within a scheme of a systematic approach aimed at perturbing the lives of civilians, implanting fear and provoking chaos”.
“The majority of these attacks have been attributed to armed groups. The murders and abductions have continued in North Kivu in 2021, where the attacks were also directed against displaced civilians,” Balock revealed.
Between Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021, at least seven incursions by armed groups in five different sites were registered in the territory of Masisi in North Kivu, according to the UNHCR.
More than 88,000 internally displaced persons reside in 22 sites supported by the UNHCR, and the International Organisation for Migration (IMC) and many others live on spontaneous sites within the host communities.
According to the UNHCR, the attacks carried out by armed groups are usually based on suspicion of collaboration by the populations with other armed groups or with the security forces of DR Congo.
Civilians are also sometimes caught in the middle of fighting between two armed groups.
Armed groups also forcefully occupied schools and houses preventing schools from operating and they also attacked health centres in the territories of Mweso, Masisi and Lubero, the UN agency declared.
In November 2020, armed groups also introduced illegal taxes to be paid by persons who wanted to go to their farms in their villages of origin within the Rutshuru territory.
The UNHCR revealed that military operations by FACA against militias “are always more successful now than in the past” adding that the armed forces cannot maintain the zones they have secured.
More than five million persons have been uprooted from their places of origin due to insecurity and violence in DR Congo within the past two years, with more than two million internally displaced persons in the sole province of North Kivu, according to UN estimates.