Attacks on civilians may be picking up again in this part of South Kivu. There have been 3 major events since the beginning of the month:
-On May 10, around midnight, a group of armed men attacked the village of Matale, in the Moyen Plateau of Uvira Territory. The group of armed men locked all the men into one house and all the women into another house, and then proceeded to loot the town. After looting, the armed men picked out five women and raped them. The identity of these armed men is unknown, although it is strongly suspected that they are FARDC, since there is a contingent of FARDC moving through that area of the Moyen Plateau at the moment. The next day, the female survivors of the attack made their way to the Centre de Santé (Health Center) in Ndagereka. Arche d’Alliance sent a monitor up to Matale to do a preliminary investigation, but he was held up by bandits on his way back. Fortunately, he was not hurt, but Arche is not sending anyone else to Matale until they are sure of the security situation. No word on whether MONUSCO will be opening up an investigation or not.
-On May 12, a group of 13 people leaving the market in Nemba, Fizi Territory, were ambushed by a group of 34 FDLR. The ambushed civilians were relieved of their belongings and money, and then were tortured and mutilated to various degrees. The details of the mutilations and tortures as provided by initial reports are fairly gruesome, and I won’t be reporting them here until I am more sure of the details.
-On April 30, an FDLR unit attacked the village of Kikonde (yes, where SOS FED has a center), Fizi Territory. Seven shops were robbed and one merchant was wounded by gunfire. The FDLR has a jungle base near Ngandja, and their forays into Kikonde were made easier by the fact that there is no longer a FARDC unit stationed there; the Amani Leo unit that was in Kikonde left in February for reorganization and training. Ironically, despite the fact that the Amani Leo brigades are still greatly resented by the civilian population, their presence could have prevented such an attack. The Amani Leo brigades are still in braçage closer to the bigger towns of Fizi, and rumor has it they are not too keen on heading back into the bush to fight the FDLR.
The good news is that the SOS FED center in Kikonde was not affected by the attack; the SOS FED staff and beneficiaries in Kikonde are safe and sound. However, this attack and the robbery of the Arche monitor in Matale are brutal reminders of the dangers facing the civilian population of South Kivu, and in particular the high-risk environment for defenders of human rights.
Posted By WALTER JAMES
Posted May 14th, 2011