On 27 May, UNHCR extended its L3 emergency mechanism for an additional three months as human rights violations linked to armed conflict continue to increase. Over 1 million people have been uprooted by violence in Ituri,
North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces since the start of the L3 declaration in November 2019.
UNHCR continues to step up its activities in order to respond to the protection needs of conflictaffected populations, though the needs exceed all response capacities. Cash, shelter support and awareness raising continue amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Operational context and protection situation
Ituri Province: The security situation remains fragile across the province. The number of protection incidents has been steadily on the rise since the beginning of the year. In May, violations attributed to elements of the Congolese army (FARDC) have increased by 109% compared to March, rising from 343 protection incidents attributed to FARDC elements in March, to 646 in April and 718 in May. This trend is continuing in early June with ongoing military operations against various militia groups, particularly in the territories of Djugu and Mahagi as well as around the provincial capital Bunia. On 5 June the FARDC took over 23 villages in Walendu Watsi Chiefdom in Mahagi Territory that were occupied by CODECO militia for two months.
Attacks by CODECO militia in Mahagi Territory on 17 May have displaced up to 46,000 persons according to UNHCR’s partner INTERSOS that is monitoring the protection situation and population movements. Some 6,600 persons have returned to their villages of origin in Walendu Watsi Chiefdom. In Irumu territory, elements of the ADF militia that had retreated due to military operations in neighbouring North Kivu Province, have used the weak presence of security forces in this area to attack local populations, killing 22 persons during several attacks in the area of Komanda Health Zone between 22 and 27 May. Militia attacks further forced over 11,000 persons into displacement in the Komanda Health Zone during May.
North Kivu Province: Armed clashes between the FARDC and armed groups continue to uproot thousands in North Kivu. In Bwito Chiefdom, Rutshuru Territory, armed clashes between the FDLR and FARDC have led to reported human rights violations, by both parties. On 29 May, the FARDC reportedly attacked a medical centre in Bwito and set 42 houses on fire. Medical staff were threatened at gunpoint while medication was being stolen and several patients had to flee the clinic. In Beni Territory, FARDC continues fighting against ADF, who in turn retaliate against the local populations. In Masisi Territory, FARDC fights against different Mai Mai armed groups. These clashes are resulting in serious human rights violations against the local populations. 760 protection incidents have been recorded during the reporting period, a majority committed by Mai Mai militia (42%) while members of the Congolese army are increasingly involved in human rights violations. In April, 316 incidents were attributed to the FARDC, which rose to 422 (33% increase) in May, a majority taking place in Rutshuru and Beni Territories.
South Kivu Province: Conflict between armed groups continued in South Kivu with 375 protection incidents registered by UNHCR partner INTERSOS, including physical assault and extorsion, primarily carried out by armed groups, while the FARDC reportedly perpetrated about 16% of these protection incidents. At the same time, the FARDC has increased its presence in South Kivu to secure the zones facing the presence of armed groups and inter-communal conflicts. There has been increased violence against Banyamulenge pastoralists, accentuating the heightened inter-community conflicts in the Highlands of Fizi and Uvira.
Conflict between the FARDC and the armed groups in the Highlands in Itombwe and Minembwe led to new waves of forced displacement of about 6,000 people towards Fizi, Uvira, Itombwe and Bijombo areas. About 600 IDPs fled to an informal IDP site next to the MONUSCO base in Mikenge where 1,800 people had previously sought protection. On 28 May, both the IDP site and the MONUSCO base were attacked by Mai Mai rebels.