During the reporting period, the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was characterized by pockets of intense violence. In this context, in early October 2020, President Félix Tshisekedi made a three-day visit to Goma, holding a series of consultations and chairing a mini-summit, including on security issues, with the Heads of States of Angola, Rwanda and Uganda.
In North Kivu, operations of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FARDC) scattered the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) into several mobile groups and extended the ADF area of operations. While supply chains were disrupted, ADF continued to attack FARDC and civilians. ADF demonstrated improved knowledge of improvised explosive device construction techniques. While Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for many attacks in Beni territory, the Group of Experts was unable to establish any direct link between the two groups.
In Beni territory, some cultivation, harvest and sale of cocoa was linked to armed activity by ADF, Mai-Mai groups, unidentified armed assailants and some FARDC members. Many cocoa farmers struggled to access fields due to insecurity, and attacks on cocoa farmers rose during harvest periods. Cocoa, including from areas under armed control, was smuggled into Uganda during 2020, while many cocoa supply chains were opaque.
Nduma défense du Congo-Rénové (NDC-R) split into two factions: one led by former NDC-R leader and sanctioned individual Guidon Shimiray Mwissa (CDi.033) and the other by his deputy, Gilbert Bwira Chuo. NDC-R continued to benefit from the diversion of government stocks, with several FARDC officers supplying them with weapons and ammunition. FARDC contributed to the NDC-R split, its restructuring and the strengthening of the Bwira faction as a proxy to track down the Guidon faction and fight other armed groups.
Criminal networks were involved in the smuggling of tin, tantalum and tungsten originating from mine sites under armed group occupation. Tantalum was the most confiscated of the three minerals at the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Rwanda border between January and September 2020.
In Ituri, the signing of ceasefire agreements beginning in mid-July 2020 by Lendu armed groups, commonly known as Coopérative pour le développement du Congo or CODECO, marked a relative lull in attacks in Djugu and Mahagi territories.
At the time of drafting of the present report, western Djugu territory and northern Irumu territory were the most affected by violence, primarily due to the reluctance of some Lendu factions to adhere to the ceasefire process and activities of the recently created Force patriotique et intégrationniste du Congo armed group and the selfdefence group Zaïre.
The Union des révolutionnaires pour la défense du peuple Congolais (URDPC/CODECO) and the Armée de libération du Congo (ALC/CODECO) used children, a sanctionable act. Some FARDC members deployed in Ituri committed exactions against Lendu civilians.
Combatants of Lendu factions conducted an increasing number of attacks on gold-trading hubs and mining areas in gold-rich Djugu and Irumu territories. Zaïre elements were also present in gold-mining areas, but rarely targeted gold or gold miners. Cross-border gold smuggling from Ituri into Uganda continued.
In southern Irumu territory, the number of attacks against civilians by armed groups coming from North Kivu, including ADF, increased with FARDC operatio ns, leading to large population displacements and exacerbating tensions between communities. A September attack in Payi targeted Hutus, also referred to as Banyabwishas, in particular.
The process for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri resumed on 19 October 2020, after stalling following a 30 September 2020 clash with FARDC.
In South Kivu, the structure of Mai-Mai Yakutumba changed following the defection of deputy leader Alonda Bita in August 2020. The armed group continued to finance its activities through the illegal exploitation of gold in the Misisi area and illicit logging, particularly of redwood, a species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Raia Mutomboki factions of the Butachibera and Hamakombo groups were involved in the illegal taxation of local communities to access forests, particularly in Kalehe territory.
The Group of Experts is concerned by, and continues to investigate, the escalation of violence in the highlands of Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga territories by armed groups and the attribution of collective responsibility to communities for their attacks, as well as inflammatory speech.
Members of the Rwanda Defence Force were present and conducted operations in North Kivu from late 2019 to early October 2020 in violation of the sanctions regime. The Burundi National Defence Force and the Imbonerakure youth group launched incursions into South Kivu between November 2019 and July 2020, also in violation of the sanctions regime.
Two seizures of weaponry, in Kinshasa in October 2019 and Gbadolite in April 2020, showed the continued existence of internal trafficking networks, sometimes with cross-border spillovers.