DRC in focus: Ethnic conflict and instability cause tens of thousands to flee


The situation in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rapidly deteriorating after an escalation of multiple ethnic conflicts in the area, with more than 42,000 people, 26,000 of those being children, fleeing from the DRC to Uganda since the beginning of 2018. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said the humanitarian situation in the country is “at a breaking point”, while the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called the situation “one of the world’s worst displacement crises for children.” More than 70 armed groups operate in the eastern part of the DRC, mainly in the provinces of Ituri, Maniema, North and South Kivu, and Tanganyika.  On 28 February, DRC local officials announced that new violent ethnic clashes in the eastern province of North Kivu have killed 23 people, including 16 civilians and seven members of the militia, since Sunday 25 February. The Hutu community has been in constant conflict with Nande and Hundu groups over control of the land.
 
Ever since President Kabila postponed the 2016 presidential election, political instability has also affected the country. Although elections are now scheduled to take place in December 2018, protests around the country continue against his government.  Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, reported that security forces killed at least two people, injured 47, and arrested more than 100 protesters during church-led demonstrations against President Kabila on 25 February. She urged the DRC to carry out credible investigations into the incidents and impose appropriate sanctions. On 27 February, a DRC military court found police officer Agbe Obeid guilty of killing a protester and sentenced him to life in prison. UN Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric also announced that President Kabila agreed to Secretary-General Guterres’ request to visit the country, joint with African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, ahead of the presidential elections. A date, however, has not been announced.