Democratic Republic of Congo: New ‘Kivu Security Tracker’ Maps Eastern Violence

The Tracker helps address this challenge. By highlighting patterns and trends, and through a graphic representation of the violence, it aims to make the conflict more comprehensible. The initial findings indicate that much of the violence in the Kivus goes unreported. Ninety percent of the incidents documented on the Tracker, amounting to 70 percent of violent deaths, were not mentioned at all in international media. More than half are absent from the best available academic trackers of violence.

While many factors contribute to the violence, some trends stand out. Congolese security forces were responsible for over 100 violent deaths over the past six months, more than any single armed group and roughly one fifth of total killings documented. One of the worst single incidents documented was a massacre of at least 39 Burundian refugees by Congolese security forces in Kamanyola, South Kivu, on September 15.

The Tracker’s findings also suggest that the conflict in eastern Congo has been exacerbated by the country’s general political crisis, as President Joseph Kabila has delayed elections and used violence, repression, and corruption to entrench his hold on power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended on December 19, 2016. Armed groups have formed coalitions to challenge Kabila’s extended presidency, while the government has cracked down violently on peaceful protesters.

“Levels of displacement in Congo today are higher than ever recorded,” said Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group. “The current political crisis is not just a question of elections, but it’s about the millions affected by persistent and deadly violence. Solving the crisis will require nuanced engagement in the conflict, but also the political will to challenge those responsible.”

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com