DRC — Govt. Recruits Warlords for Peace as Thousands Flee

  • Germaine Katanga was charged with involvement in four counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
  • The selection of the alleged "converted" rebel members to be messengers of reconciliation was part of DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi's campaign promises.
  • In an ambush credited to CODECO, a paramilitary group suspected of a string of massacres, gunmen killed 11 people in Ituri.

Several former warlords have been sent by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Ituri, their hometown, to try to fix the ongoing situation in the region. In the epicenter of the country’s long-lasting war, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo arrived last week.

Ituri is one of the 21 new provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo created in the 2015 repartitioning. Ituri, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, and Tshopo provinces are the result of the dismemberment of the former Orientale province. Ituri was formed from the Ituri district whose town of Bunia was elevated to capital city of the new province.

Germaine Katanga was charged with involvement in four counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. One of these was a 2003 attack that killed more than 200 people. For the same attack, Ngudjolo was charged and convicted by the ICC.

The selection of the alleged “converted” rebel members to be messengers of reconciliation was part of DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s campaign promises. Katanga was released on 16 March as part of a peace and reconciliation deal with the government in Ituri.

In the meantime, in an ambush credited to CODECO, a paramilitary group suspected of a string of massacres, gunmen killed 11 people in Ituri, including soldiers and local politicians, the AFP reported on Sunday.

“The death toll is 11, including the deputy economic and financial local administrator and three police and four soldiers,” said Adel Alingi Mokuba, the provincial administrator at Djugu. Since October, according to the United Nations, over 500 people have been killed by militant groups in Ituri. The UN has also cautioned of “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

3,000 Congolese Asylum Seekers in Uganda

In Mid-May 2020, there was renewed violence in Ituri. Thousands of people are fleeing from these insecure areas. Some leave Djugu for Mahagi. Here, the CODECO militiamen are becoming more and more active.

Inside the territory, population movements are also reported, and sites of displaced people are forming. According to sources, about 50,000 then try to cross the border and reach neighboring Uganda.

On Tuesday, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, announces that some 1,500 asylum seekers have entered Uganda through the Guladjo and Mount Zeu crossings in the Zombo district. Some of the displaced, have been able to return to their regions of origin, and others are with host families, notably in Mahagi.

Félix Tshisekedi is a Congolese politician who has been the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 25 January 2019. His election in 2018 marked the first peaceful transition of power since the DRC became independent from Belgium in 1960.

The new arrivals were hungry and tired. Many also arrived in a state of great weakness after hiding in the bush for several weeks, with insufficient access to food, clean water, and shelter for sleeping. Most of them are women, children, and elderly people. The UN agency welcomes the fact that the Ugandan authorities are opening their borders despite the pandemic of the new coronavirus.

“I thank the Ugandan government and the local communities for this important demonstration of solidarity with those fleeing the conflict. This proves that even at the heart of a global crisis like that of COVID-19, it is possible to implement border measures which respect international standards in the field of human rights and the protection of refugees,” said Joël Boutroue, the UNHCR representative in Uganda.

These asylum seekers will have to pass a security and health check. They will then be quarantined. UNHCR and its partners have set up tents, health screening areas, toilets, handwashing facilities, and water tanks at the Zewdu Farm Institute site near the border post, where quarantine takes place. On the ground, UNHCR needs more resources to deal with these new asylum seekers.

“The needs are enormous and continue to grow. If $ 28 million is not immediately available, we may have to cut essential health care, child protection, and mental health support services that are not related to COVID-19,” Boutroue pointed out. UNHCR says it received only 18 percent of the $357 million needed for its activities in Uganda.

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George Mtimba

George clarifies how the news is changing the world, how world news trends affect you. Also, George is a professional journalist, a freelance news reporter and writer who is passionate with current world news.

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