Militia fighters have killed over 700 in eastern DR Congo, UN says

Tuesday March 28 2023
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who has said in a quarterly report that the security situation in eastern DR Congo has deteriorated, with a steep surge in violence. PHOTO | KARIM JAAFAR | AFP


A surge in attacks in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed more than 700 lives at the hands of militia fighters since December, the United Nations (UN) said on Monday.

Rebel militias have plagued eastern DRC for decades, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared during the 1990s and early 2000s.

"The security situation deteriorated further in the three eastern provinces of the DRC with a steep surge in violence," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a quarterly report on the situation in the mineral-rich but war-scarred former Zaire.

He said the violence was committed mainly by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist-aligned group, a notorious militia called CODECO and M23 insurgents.

M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp

M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp after a meeting between EACRF officials on January 6, 2023. PHOTO | GUERCHOM NDEBO | AFP

Guterres also expressed concern over human rights violations, saying at least 628 people died from extrajudicial killings by armed groups around the country and not just in the three eastern DRC provinces.


It was not immediately clear how many of these deaths were included in the 700-plus fatalities reported in those provinces.

Kinshasa and several western governments say the M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda eyeing the natural resources across the border, a claim denied by Kigali.

Read: Kagame: Congo war will not be fought on Rwanda soil

Guterres said he was worried about a rise in hate speech exacerbated by M23 violence as well as tension between the DRC and Rwanda.

"I am also alarmed by the escalating tensions between the DRC and Rwanda. I encourage both sides to settle their differences through dialogue and existing conflict resolution mechanisms," Guterres said.