The situation in Bunia and the rest of the province of Ituri is much more complex, marked by recurring and multiform crises that the population is the main victim. The public authorities are exceeded by the events. Political officials, some tend to cover the mallers of optional disorders or by pressure from community leadership. Others are instrumentalised or attend the crumbling of their power at the base.

National Episcopal Conference of Congo

Presidency

3258-Kinshasa / Gombe

Democratic Republic of Congo

Stop killing your brothers.

“The blood of your brother shouts towards me from the ground” (Gen 4, 10)

Message from the CENCO Standing Committee on the situation of insecurity and massacres east of the DR Congo

PREAMBLE

For more than two decades, the east of our country has been particularly shaken by armed conflict and recurring insecurity causing death, desolation and displacement of populations. Unfortunately, all our arrests through our various socio-political messages do not yet find significant echoes from the people concerned.
To demonstrate our emotional and effective proximity, with our bruised brothers and sisters and victims of this tragedy, a delegation of the Bishops of the Episcopal Conferences Association of Central Africa (ACEAC) and the Congo National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) Made a pastoral mission to the east of the country, particularly in the dioceses of Goma, butembo, Beni and Bunia, from 14 to 26 January 2021, to listen to them and comfort.
During this mission, the Bishops prayed with the populations, and exchanged with the representatives of several layers of the communities. They also visited vulnerable people or in distress. In addition, they addressed our brothers and sisters from messages of peace, hope and appeal to unity.
At our ordinary session of the standing committee held in Kinshasa from 22 to 25 February 2021, we, in view of the importance of the information received, lifted the option of making a consequent advantage with the head of state and to make Public a special recommendation on the observations made and our recommendations in the hope of obtaining great mobilization to combat the root causes of this insecurity.

Constants

It is only about the situation relating to insecurity in North Kivu and ituri. Another mission of listening and comfort is projected in the coming months in South Kivu where the security situation remains very worrying.

Reasons and consequences of an asymmetrical war

The attackers use the weaknesses of the regular armed forces to achieve their political or religious purpose: the occupation of the land, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the well-cause enrichment, the Islamisation of religion in defiance of the Religious freedom, etc …
All this situation has affected families, resulted into massive displacements of the populations and caused significant losses by destroying the economy of a region that is rightly served as the country attic. The victims are counted by thousands, more than 6,000 dead in Beni since 2013 and more than 2000 in Bunia for the year 2020. There is also at least 3 million displaced and about 7,500 kidnapped people.
Added to this are the burning of several houses and villages, the destruction and closure of schools and health centres, the pillaging of administrative buildings, the looting of animals, food crops and cultures, etc … the authors are often armed groups and militia, some of which convey an ideology close to “Satanism”.
Although the whole region is in the grip of insecurity and massacres, the situation sometimes varies from one zone to another.

Location in Beni-Butembo

The killings in the Beni-Butembo area goes back to 2013, in recent days, especially from the last quarter of 2020, it is the most attacked sector. Between the month of January where the Joint ACEAC / CENCO mission took place and this message, the situation on the ground seems to be won in this part of the country. There is already over a hundred people killed including children.

Community conflict: Several people argue that the nature of the conflict in this area is neither intra nor intercommunity but rather a land occupation or balkanization strategy. However, others think that there is, to a certain extent, aspects of an intercommunal conflict following the abrupt and massive arrival of the populations that speak in Kinyarwanda called Banyabwisha and populations from Uganda who do not speak any local language.
Religious Conflict: The interlocutors of the Bishops also referred to the character of the conflict, including the Islamization of the Region in a sort of deeper negative influence strategy on the general policy of the country in the long term. The escapees among the captured ADFs claim to have been forced to adhere to Islam.
Military operations: From the point of view of the military authorities, the first phase of operations, known as the coercion phase is completed. The enemy is disorganised. It remains the phases of stabilization and standardization.

Mission in Bunia

THE SITUATION IN BUNIA AND THE PROVINCE OF ITURI IS COMPLEX

The situation in Bunia and the rest of the province of Ituri is much more complex, marked by recurring and multiform crises that the population is the main victim. The public authorities are exceeded by the events. Political officials, some tend to cover the mallers of optional disorders or by pressure from community leadership. Others are instrumentalised or attend the crumbling of their power at the base.
14. On certain roads, taxes are perceived by armed groups in view and the Su of the established authorities, and this is happening about fifty meters from the FARDCs that make the same. And, these also pay to those when they have to walk on the other side of the barrier, and vice versa.
15. The armed groups, some of which are also present in Beni-butembo are mainly trained militia. We are talking about more than a hundred. The main: ADF / NATU; The FDLRs; UPLC (Union of Patriots for the Liberation of Congo); Mayi-mayi; MTN (jihadists associated with Mayi-Mayi); Ex CNDP or M23 CODECO (Cooperative for Congo Development); FPIC (Integrationist Patriotic Force of Congo) also known as Chiniya Kilima; ALC (the Congo Liberation Army); FPAC / Zaire (popular self-defence front); The FRPI (force of patriotic resistance of the Ituri); etc …

The armed forces of the DRC

The Elements of the Army are present but the impact of their presence is mixed. Some of them recognize great efforts to stem the massacres and looting. Some officers are accused of torpedoing the progress of rank and file men and subordinate officers. On the other hand, the multiplicity of FARDC command centres and their low militia interventions reinforce looting and criminal economy.
In the opinion of several observers, and in general, it emerges that the armed forces of the Republic are characterized in this zone by:

– a Centralisation of some officers who have remained for a long time in the region and oppose to be deployed elsewhere;

– the modification and misappropriation of the balance of the military of rank and their ration, hence the amenity of their motivation;

– poor workforce management, sometimes insufficient, sometimes fictitious: those who fall on the front are neither identified nor declared;

– great infiltration of foreign elements in favour of brewing and mixing operations; ICC Trial of Bosco Ntaganda.

– the presence of the old rebels of the RCD, the CNDP and the M23 in the ranks of the military engaged in the operations in the east and suspected of complicity with the enemy;

– the affirming of some officers, more concerned with the business than the conduct of military operations;

– a high porosity of the borders that facilitates nocturnal entries of armed men from neighbouring countries.

The absence of the authority of the State

The population has the feeling of being abandoned. The promises of the central government about the rapid recovery of peace are numerous, but many often remained without effects. In the meantime, the negative image of the policy packs the collective unconscious of the population.
Several perpetrators of crimes enjoy the coverage of certain political actors who continue to stir up on conflicts to benefit from them; They would even be instrumentalised by external forces for the purposes of looting of natural resources thanks to the persistence of the crisis. Other political actors assist helpless to the crumbling of their power base.
Obviously, the traditional chain of intelligence and command seems failing; and several chains are part of the problem, even blockage. Some politicians and military officials obstruct the decisions of decisions or compromise the enforcement in the same order, the weakness of the judicial institutions and impunity make that the former prisoners return to the cycle of violence, lack of reintegration into a community civilized.

MONUSCO and the international community

MONUSCO is accused of passivity and even complicity by the population. Its presence is more and more suspicious and scepticism because they have not managed to stop the massacres even when it happens a few meters from the UN forces.
On the side of the Monusco, things are seen positively because there is hope to move forward. The mission has put in place three forces of rapid interventions that are mobile. It puts on the reopening of its bases that were closed. Corridors will be released in the Ruwenzori, Mutwanga and Eringeti.

Recommendations

Findings made, it is clear that insecurity in this part of the country is a very complex reality and to overcome it, it takes a conjugation of efforts on several levels. That’s why we recommend:

Structural Refoundation (Presidency of the Republic and Central Government)

We advocate a refoundation of vision, approaches and structures at various political, military, police, information services, humanitarian partners, Congo partners.

The purification of the soldiers’ balance (Presidency of the Republic and Government

That diligence be made to regularise the payroll, especially that of the rank and file soldiers, and verify the best use of the resources allocated to the units engaged in the operations, the mastery of the workforce and the good performance of the logistics on the theatres of the theatres operations. Divert the balance and the ration of soldiers to the forehead is a criminal act.

The effective permutation of the officers assigned to the East (Ministry of Defense and Staff)

It is urgent and necessary to move all the military officers who have evolved in the various rebellions or armed groups to the east of the country, and put them away from the chain of the command and logistics those who would be deemed agents- relay of foreign armies.

Strengthening of the workforce and logistics supports (Government and Staff)

We are asking for strengthening regiments and equip them with adequate logistical means including gratitude and attacks to reduce losses in human lives and material crimes.

The military operation of the genre “Artemis” (Presidency-Government-Parliament)

Advocacy is made for a large-scale military operation like the “Artemis” mission which was conducted from 6 June to 6 September 2003 in Ituri, by the European Union under the European Security Policy and Defense, under the authority of the UN Security Council, according to its resolution 1484 of May 30, 2003.

Disarmament, demobilization and social reintegration (presidency-government)

We call on the completeness of the disarmament and demobilization process, and the care of the demobilized confined to 2020. Several of them are joining the armed groups or grow the ranks of bandits and gangsters.

The Observatory for Peace and Socio-Economic Recovery (Government-Monusco)

We advise the establishment of a permanent consultation for cohesion and east peace, led by a multidisciplinary scientific observatory, and the involvement of local leaders in awareness, peaceful cohabitation for the consolidation of dialogue. intra and inter community.

The Baraza La Amani- Space for Peace Dialogue (Government-Monusco-Churches)

We are asking to develop in the conflict areas of dialogue based on proximity communication and the promotion of citizenship values.
Bilateral and multilateral partnership

We recommend the international partners and countries Friends of the DR Congo to further communicate on their vision of peace in this country, to get involved in strengthening the certification mechanisms of agricultural and mining products that circulate in the region.

Conversion

The war is the mother of all miseries, she affects all the spheres of society and compromises the future of our children. To those who took up arms we say, “Stop killing your brothers (see GN 8-9). He who hates his brother is in the darkness (1JN2, 10-11). We invite those who are trained by the division’s spectrum that it is for love and unity that can be overcome and break the spectrum of violence.
Also recommend, during this Easter time, the proximity of the whole national community with our east brothers and sisters, by reserving a youthful time of prayer for peace east of the country.

CONCLUSION

The situation of insecurity in the east is a real drama that affects the whole country. Indeed, we can not hope for the development of this country as long as it remains under the control of predators. We are all invited to assume our responsibilities and strengthen our links of solidarity and fraternity (1 CO 12,26).
The CENCO remains committed to supporting the process of peace construction and social cohesion. Under our pastoral mission, we work internally and externally; To consolidate the fraternity between peoples and communities so that the enemies tend their hand and that the adversaries agree to make a part of the path together (see IS 11, 6-9).

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