Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo Threatens Regional Stability

By Vanessa Onyema | Apr 15, 2024

Human rights experts warn that the already unstable security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening, as violent bloodshed between Congolese and foreign troops competing for control of the region escalates and threatens to spread across the country and beyond.

Since the ceasefire ended on December 28, 2023, hostilities between the 23 March Movement (M23) and the Congolese military have intensified significantly. As of January 28, 2024, violence between M23 and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) has escalated in various locations, and M23 has moved further south, causing further population displacement to Goma and South Kivu.

With 25.4 million people in need of relief, the already severe humanitarian crisis has been made worse by protracted and recurrent violence and insecurity. There are serious threats to their safety for the nearly 7 million internally displaced Congolese. Hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result of targeted attacks by armed groups against displacement facilities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The violence has exacerbated an already grave humanitarian situation. During the clashes on February 12, two internally displaced persons sites were targeted with indirect fire, killing five individuals, three of whom were children.

More than 400,000 displaced people have sought refuge in the city, with 65,000 in the last two weeks. This significantly increased cholera cases due to inadequate safe drinking water, proper hygiene, and sanitation. Furthermore, restricted access to M23-controlled territory separates Goma from interior territories, disrupting food production and supply networks.

In addition to the current humanitarian crisis, the situation is marred by widespread human rights violations. The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office reported 2,110 human rights violations and abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between October 1, 2023 and March 15, 2024.

It indicates that the armed officers were responsible for 59% of the crimes, which included executions without trial, conflict-related sexual violence, civilian abductions, and forced recruitment of children. Almost half of these violations and abuses occurred in the North Kivu province, where conflict and tensions have reached an all-time high.

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk stated that all parties involved, from the Congolese people to the international community, must maintain a strong political will to heal the profound wounds of the country's past and present. The Congolese government will need to take decisive action to fulfil its commitments regarding human rights. Also, to firmly root healing for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in human rights, justice, and human dignity, the members of the Council must increase their funding and commitment.

Increased funding and a stronger commitment are crucial to ensure long-term healing and stability for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only by prioritizing human rights, justice, and human dignity can a path towards lasting peace be achieved.

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