The Group of Associations for the Defense of Human Rights and Peace, or GADHOP, authored a declaration on July 18 urging the Congolese government and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, to take firm measures to end the pervasive kidnapping of civilians in the Beni and Lubero Territories of North Kivu Province.
Joined by other members of Congolese civil society, GADHOP included in the declaration an annotated list of the kidnapped men, women, and children, underscoring the alarming escalation of abductions by local and foreign militias in eastern Congo:
2010: 37 people abducted;
2011: 20 people abducted;
2012: 45 people abducted;
January-June 2013: 200 people abducted
Total: 302 people abducted
According to the declaration, the increase in kidnappings began in 2010 and is primarily a response to FARDC military operations against the militia groups at that time.
The civil society groups accuse the Congolese government of blatant inaction in the face of the rising kidnappings, lamenting dysfunctional governmental committees, broken promises of financial support, and gross military incompetence. Civil society groups are united in boycotting certain taxes in North Kivu province as an act of civil disobedience against the Congolese government. The declaration concludes with specific recommendations to both the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and MONUSCO.
The civil society groups specifically call for:
- Serious investigations into the repeated abductions in the Territories of Beni and Lubero;
- Military operations by both the FARDC and MONUSCO to track and neutralize the militias currently operating in eastern Congo;
- Reinforcement of local organizations in their efforts to lead investigations on the causes of the proliferation of armed groups in the Territories of Beni and Lubero.
Meanwhile, fighting resumed around Goma between FARDC and M23 forces in eastern Congo. To stay updated on the ongoing conflict outside of Goma, check out Enough’s Storify here.
Photo: FARDC Congolese government special forces in Minova, DRC (AP)