Violence in DR Congo’s Ituri leaves 1,000 dead: think tank

Violence in DR Congo's northeastern province of Ituri has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and caused around half a million people to flee their homes.
Violence in DR Congo's northeastern province of Ituri has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and caused around half a million people to flee their homes.
Image: AFP

Violence in DR Congo's northeastern province of Ituri has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and caused around half a million people to flee their homes, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Wednesday.

The flareup has pitched the Hema ethnic group, who are predominantly herders, against the Lendu community, who are mostly sedentary farmers.

More than two dozen people have been killed in violence this week in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The attacks by ethnic Lendu farmers in Ituri province have mostly targeted Hema herders. They have long been in conflict over grazing rights and political representation. Al Jazeera's Laura Burdon-Manley reports. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/ #AlJazeeraEnglish #Coronavirus #DRCongo

The two communities were embroiled in a bloody conflict between 1999-2003 that triggered concern across southern-central Africa and led to the European Union's first foreign military mission, the short-term Operation Artemis.

The latest unrest has worrying ramifications for the notoriously troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and for neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, which played an important role in the 1999-2003 conflict, the ICG said in a report.

“Since December 2017, violence in the province of Ituri... has left nearly 1,000 people dead and half a million displaced,” the ICG said.

So far, Lendu leaders have distanced themselves from the militias, and the Hema have not mounted systematic reprisals, it said.

More than 80,000 people remain trapped in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo amid ongoing ethnic violence. The fighting in recent weeks has killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Some of them have fled to the Lake Albert region in neighbouring Uganda. Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi reports. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/ #AlJazeeraEnglish #DRCViolence #Uganda

However “they (the Hema) do not rule out mobilising their youth if attacks continue,” it said.

“Young Hema have organised into self-defence groups and erected roadblocks in Ituri, which should be seen as forewarning of the risk of ethnic confrontation.”

The report called on President Felix Tshisekedi's government to “negotiate the surrender” of Lendu militias, as part of a broader dialogue between the two communities and others.

It also suggested a four-party summit, bringing in the DRC with Angola, Rwanda and Uganda, to “help address the conflict's regional dimensions.”

North and South provinces, which lie to the south of Ituri, are in the grip of militia groups that typically claim to defend the interests of given ethnic groups, and fight over resources in the mineral-rich region. — AFP



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