DR Congo

Security challenge: Non-state Armed groups - Recommendations for work in the DRC in the context of the Ebola emergency response 2019-20

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In March, suspected ADF forces burnt down a health clinic and several houses during an attack on Lubwasi town. Six civilians were also killed by guns or machetes, and several houses in the area were burnt down.

Context and key challenges

Using open sources, key informant interviews and data shared by response actors, Insecurity Insight has identified the following contextual challenges relating to the presence and involvement of non-state armed groups in response areas of operation that have impacted both response actors’ security and their access to affected communities.

• During the first six months of 2019, armed groups carried out over 550 attacks on civilians. In some of these attacks healthcare facilities were burnt down or staff members were killed or abducted.

• Some attacks directly targeted healthcare workers or facilities. Other attacks targeted a whole town and, therefore, healthcare workers were among the affected civilians and healthcare facilities among the looted properties.

• Over 100 armed groups, including Mai Mai militia and ADF forces, operate in Ebolaoutbreak areas. There are tensions and competitions between the various armed groups.

• Boundaries between armed groups and state actors can be fluid and motives are not always clear. Soldiers serving with the state’s armed forces can also be active armed group members. Criminal acts can be perpetrated by both armed groups and soldiers. Medical equipment or drugs may be looted to supply an armed group with needed medical care.

• Armed groups can be embedded within local communities or have close relations with them, and may share community perceptions that the Ebola crisis was artificially created to profit elites.

• Armed groups tend to have economic interests to sustain themselves