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Faith Nyasuguta

UN peacekeepers have begun deploying more troops in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to address a new wave of violence from various armed groups. 

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, announced that the decision followed clashes between the Zaire and CODECO armed groups at a mining site about 40 kilometers from Bunia in Ituri Province.

A recent report by UN experts indicated that the conflict has escalated, partly due to the actions of the Voluntary Combatants for the Defence of the Homeland (Wazalendo). While they fight against rebels like the M23 in North Kivu, they have also become a source of insecurity for civilians. 

The government has since banned them from carrying weapons in Goma, the provincial capital. Major General Peter Cirimwami Nkuba, military governor of North Kivu, emphasized that the government does not want to see any Wazalendo combatants in town with weapons.

Patrick Muyaya, Government Spokesman, acknowledged that while it is important to support those defending their homeland, it should not excuse attacks on civilians. Since May 25, a series of attacks by the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Ituri and North Kivu provinces has led to 100 civilian deaths, making the ADF the country’s biggest threat after the M23. 


The ADF, originally from Uganda, have been conducting most of their attacks in Uganda but have intensified their activities in the DRC.

The UN experts’ report highlighted that the ADF committed the highest number of murders in the DRC in 2023, with more than 1,000 people killed, mainly civilians. Despite the ongoing violence, the Congolese government asserts that joint operations with the Ugandan army have limited the assailants’ might, neutralizing several terrorists and freeing many civilian hostages.

Bruno Lemarquis, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the DRC, expressed deep concern about the continuing violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. He warned that if the violence persists, it could further aggravate the already precarious humanitarian situation in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu. 

More than 900,000 newly displaced people were registered between January and April 2024, bringing the total number of displaced people in these provinces to over 5.6 million.

The UN report also noted that over 470 people were killed in Ituri in the first five months of this year due to violence perpetrated by armed actors, particularly in the territories of Djugu, Irumu, and Mambasa, where the ADF and the local armed group CODECO operate.

Juvenal Munubo, a former MP, criticized the government’s focus on fighting the M23, arguing that the military strategy has shown its limits. He called for a security forum to evaluate previous strategies and better protect Congolese citizens. Some civil society members accuse the government of neglecting other armed groups while focusing on the M23, but the government maintains that efforts are being made on all fronts.

The Congolese army has been facing off with the M23 in the strategic town of Kanyabayonga, home to more than a million people. The FARDC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission in the DRC have focused on M23 since February, but new violence from other groups is now causing concern.

SADC troops, positioned around the city of Goma, have been engaged in fighting. At the end of May, 13 South African soldiers from the SADC mission were wounded, and one was killed. 


Major General Monwabisi Dyakopu, commander of the SADC Mission in the DRC, stated that their troops have an offensive mandate against all types of violent groups to restore peace and security, protect civilians, and ensure that communities can live without threats or interference.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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