In the second of two field dispatches on the crisis in eastern Congo, Enough field researcher Olivia Caeymaex reports on the situation in Walikale territory, a region where the FDLR maintains a strong presence. In Part I, Olivia challenged the impression given by the Congolese government and the United Nations that the situation in North Kivu in eastern Congo is improving.
Now reporting on a recent trip to the westernmost part of volatile North Kivu province, Olivia exposes the inability of security efforts to weaken and remove the FDLR in the area. The presence of peacekeepers and the Congolese army in the region has in fact only forced rebel militia to adapt new tactics to maintain power.
Here is a glimpse:
“Local leaders recognized the thorny dilemma at the heart of the problem: villagers in Walikale territory are dependent upon Congolese military forces to provide security, but they also recognize the inability of these forces to actually defeat the FDLR. Instead of progressing toward disarming and dismantling the rebels, the main result of the fighting is more reprisal attacks against civilians, more human rights abuses by the army itself, and additional destruction of Walikale’s already devastated infrastructure.”
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Photo: Congolese soldiers (AP)