On the morning of 6th November 2019, the people of Oicha village near Beni town woke up to a shocking experience after more than 90 people were massacred overnight by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a rebel group that has been terrorising the people of East Congo for more than a decade now. What befell the people of Oicha village is not new and is becoming a sad trend of rebel attacks and crimes against humanity meted on innocent Congolese civilians.
As the world focuses on finding a quasi-political solution to the East DR Congo, the humanitarian crisis is worsening with more people being killed, massacred or kidnapped on a daily basis. According to recent data provided by Congo Research Group (CRG) there were 197 civilian deaths in December only in the Kivu region because of armed conflict, an increase from 120 experienced in November 2019. Despite the efforts done by the new Congolese government to counter rebel groups and bring back stability, their efforts have been largely challenged, facing a lot of obstacle that even with the support of the 20,000 plus strong United Nations MONUSCO forces they still cannot call it even.
As the conflicts continues, the humanitarian crisis worsens. According to UNHCR, the end of year conflicts in Beni alone resulted to 57,000 people from the area seeking refuge in the neighbouring Uganda as refugees with more than 500,000 being internally displaced having fled their homes in fear of new attacks. The number of displaced people as seen recently is akin to a humanitarian crisis and needs expedited action to quell the crisis as it represents an
increase in IDPs in the Congo in recent times. UN OCHA and UNHCR in a report published in 2018 posits that as at December 2017 there were more than 4.5 million internally displaced people in Congo since the beginning of the wars. The recent Beni Massacre in late 2019 resulted to about 500,000 persons being displaced averaging about 8.8% of the general numbers of internally displaced persons as compared with the figures of UNHCR as at December 2017.
The international community need to act now more than ever to ensure that the situation of the intrinsic rights of the internally displaced people are guaranteed and the refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries are taken care of. There is an urgent need to ensure that children who have been displaced out of school because of the conflicts get back to school or access some kind of formal learning, this is vital especially towards the attainment of goal number four of the Sustainable Development Goals focusing on quality education for all.
It should also be noted that as more men lose their lives in these massacres more families continue to be orphaned and many women left as widows, with some surviving through the horrendous crimes of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) perpetrated by the armed rebel factions. If we ignore the rights of the women who are survivors of SGBV and the possibility of providing them with a journey towards a full recovery, we will be fighting a losing battle against the attainment of goal number 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that focuses on gender equality and especially sub-goal number 5.2 that insists on ending all forms of violence and exploitation against women and girls.
Now, more than ever the children orphaned through the conflicts, the young women and girls displaced from their homes to seek refuge from other places need your help. The fight for the empowerment of the victims and survivors of the Congo conflicts should not be given up on instead it should be taken more seriously so that we together as the community of nations can attain our shared sustainable development and world stability.