From 11-12 November, suspected fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia attacked three villages in eastern Beni Territory in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), killing at least 38 civilians.  The victims were reportedly tied up and had their throats slit or were burned alive.  During one of the attacks, alleged ADF fighters also looted and burned down the only health center in the village of Kisunga, North Kivu province.  Earlier that week, on 9 November the UN Refugee Agency reported that fighting between armed groups and Congolese security forces in North Kivu’s Rutshuru Territory forced at least 11,000 people to seek refuge in Uganda, representing the largest refugee influx in a single day in more than a year.

These latest incidents in North Kivu demonstrate that the “state of siege” declared by the government on 30 April – which aims to combat armed groups in North Kivu and neighbouring Iturbi province – has done little to improve the security situation for vulnerable populations.  The Kivu Security Tracker documented at least 1,137 civilians killed in North Kivu and Ituri since May.

According to a report published by UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the DRC on 12 November, in the first 10 months of 2021, armed groups have perpetrated more than 2,300 human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Masisi and Lubero territories, North Kivu province, marking a significant increase in recorded abuses and violations from the same period in 2020 and 2019. The recorded violations and abuses included summary executions, targeted attacks, and sexual violence. According to UNJHRO, currently more than half of the human rights violations and abuses recorded in North Kivu province have occurred in these two territories.

UNJHRO also recorded a significant increase in violations of human rights and IHL by security forces in Masisi and Lubero territories from January-October. During the reporting period, security forces perpetrated 966 violations, including extrajudicial killings and sexual violence.

Following the publication of UNJHRO’s report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed their alarm regarding the atrocities committed in Masisi and Lubero territories. Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that, “we call on the authorities to establish prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into all human rights violations and abuses with a view to hold those responsible accountable. We also urge authorities to ensure that security personnel deployed to the two territories to confront the armed groups are properly trained to prevent human rights violations from occurring. Demobilization, disarmament, and insertion programmes to support the integration of fighters into the communities should be fully and rapidly implemented.”

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) is an independent organization that focuses on conducting research analysis and advocacy in relation to mass atrocity.

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