Jean-Pierre Bemba Visits Ituri to Address Security Crisis After CODECO Militia Kills 20 Civilians

Escalating violence in Ituri, DRC as CODECO militia kills 20 civilians, prompting government action and calls for international support to address the crisis and protect civilians.

Trim Correspondents
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Jean-Pierre Bemba Visits Ituri to Address Security Crisis After CODECO Militia Kills 20 Civilians

Jean-Pierre Bemba Visits Ituri to Address Security Crisis After CODECO Militia Kills 20 Civilians

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of the Democratic Republic of Congo, visited Bunia in the Ituri province on Thursday to assess the worsening security situation following the killing of 20 civilians by the CODECO militia in Matongo village. Bemba's visit aimed to convey President Félix Tshisekedi's instructions for restoring lasting peace in the region.

The recent attack by CODECO, an ethnic Lendu militant group, has sparked outrage and condemnation from local leaders. Robert Basiloko, the president of civil society in Djugu, urged authorities to take swift and concrete measures to protect the civilian population, stating, "We strongly condemn these barbaric acts and call on the government to fulfill its responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens."

The Ituri province has been plagued by persistent instability due to escalating attacks by armed groups in the Banyali Kilo sector. Reports of kidnappings, summary executions, and revenge attacks have become increasingly common. MONUSCO, the UN mission in the DRC, recently rescued five civilians, including a woman and two children, who were kidnapped by the rebel group ZAIRE in Ituri.

Why this matters: The ongoing violence in the Ituri province underscores the urgent need for the Congolese government and international community to address the root causes of the conflict and protect civilians. Failure to do so risks further destabilization of the region and the potential for a humanitarian crisis.

Despite a ceasefire agreement in 2020, CODECO has resumed its attacks, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,800 people as of 2022. The violence continues to escalate, with CODECO targeting mining sites and clashes erupting between the DRC military and the M23 rebels around the town of Sake. As MONUSCO prepares for an expedited withdrawal from the DRC by the end of 2024, concerns remain about the government's ability to maintain security in the eastern provinces.

During his visit, Bemba emphasized the government's commitment to safeguarding civilians and breaking the cycle of violence. He called upon the international community to support efforts to bring stability to the conflict-ravaged area, stating, "We cannot allow this senseless violence to continue. The government is determined to work with all stakeholders to find lasting solutions and restore peace in Ituri."

Key Takeaways

  • Bemba visits Ituri to address worsening security after CODECO militia killed 20 civilians.
  • Local leaders condemn CODECO's attacks and urge govt to protect civilians in Ituri.
  • Ituri plagued by instability, kidnappings, and executions by armed groups like ZAIRE.
  • CODECO attacks continue despite 2020 ceasefire, raising concerns as MONUSCO withdraws.
  • Govt pledges to work with stakeholders to restore peace, but faces challenges in Ituri.