Call for Special International Protection and Humanitarian Assistance: Banyamulenge in South Kivu at risk of Genocide

Key Message: Urgent Action Needed

We call for special international protection measures for Minembwe and Bijombo groupement, and for a humanitarian relief for the Banyamulenge civilians who are now besieged in these tiny areas; and are under constant attacks. Neither the national army nor the MONUSCO UN forces are protecting these civilians. Illustratively, Mikenke sheltering around 3,000 Banyamulenge internally displaced has been attacked by Maimai armed groups and their allies on 28th May 2020. The Mikenke Internally Displaced People (IDP) site is surrounded by 4 military deployments of the national army and Monusco’s base; all located in a distance of 2-5 Kms. Within the last three weeks from 28th May, there have been three attacks targeting Mikenke IDPs site. While IDPs have sought refuge to Monusco, the attack increases the fear over the fate of Banyamulenge in this region. This is the move across the southern part of South-Kivu. This situation has already been the subject of a Genocide Warning, on the Genocide Watch website. A demand for urgent intervention for protection of the Banyamulenge community has already been communicated by a group of Banyamulenge representatives, who petitioned the UN General Secretary (27th April 2020). This present call comes from members of the Banyamulenge Congolese community, including those in the diaspora, their friends, and all those who yearn for peace and justice for all civilians, in South Kivu and Eastern DRC.

Warning: Violence and Medias can Divert attention to the Root Causes of Conflict

While this crisis in Minembwe and around Banyamulenge has been going on since years, it widely escalated around April 2017 up to now. It turned into a coordinated and systematic strategy to uproot Banyamulenge community in the High Plateau of Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga/Itombwe (here after Minembwe). As per local NGOs, 1200 people were killed since April 2017, more than 300 villages burnt at ashes while 165,000 cattle were looted by a coalition of local and foreign armed groups. Following these systematic attacks, remaining Banyamulenge were forced to retreat in Minembwe Centre, Mikenke and few villages of Bijombo groupement. Consequently, Banyamulenge specifically, due to their vulnerable position as contested community, were forced to live in type of “concentration Camps” with no humanitarian assistance, no access to even their farming fields. More strikingly, all these suffering took place while the so-called national army (FARDC) stood accomplice and indifferent.  

Resulting largely from the frustration of serving the army taking side with killers of Banyamulenge, a military officer deserted from the national army to join the Banyamulenge local defense in Minembwe known as Twirwaneho. Next to Twirwaneho, there has been Gumino, an armed group affiliated to Banyamulenge community that operated in the region for years to “counter” Maimai threats against Banyamulenge. Colonel Rukunda Michel (Makanika) deserted the army around January 2020. Since then, the national army has been campaigning to present Makanika as huge threat to Congo’s security. FARDC has since then been coalescing with Maimai to attacks either Twirwaneho or Banyamulenge villages. Five months following his desertion, Makanika joined Twirwaneho―Gumino to launch attacks against Maimai in Kamombo whom they expected that FARDC will inevitably support Maimai.

From early June 2020 up to recently, Twirwaneho, Gumino and Makanika have been fighting (attack and counterattack) with Maimai in Kamombo and its neighborhood. During these attacks, they managed at least to retrieve some cattle that were looted months back and accessed villages where Banyamulenge have been chased. Surprisingly, while Banyamulenge members have fled villages in Kamombo and its neighborhood, their neighbors (Babembe, Bafuliro, and Banyindu communities) were likely safe and guarded by the national army units. On 13-14 July 2020, Maimai from Itombwe launched an attack in Minembwe villages, known as Kalingi. In retaliation (let assume), Twirwaneho, Gumino and Makanika launched an attack on 16 July 2020 in village known as Kipupu (Itombwe) . The village has been served as a stronghold of Maimai Kibukila Mtetezi. Sources from Kipupu have reported that civilians were killed during the attack of 16 July. Sources from the ground have reported 5, 12, 30, 50, 220 civilians killed. With limited and neutral sources, local Medias have repeatedly been referring to these figures. The point here is to advise (warn) that violence can divert attention over the real and core part of conflict. I am afraid, the evil project of selectively attacking and killing Banyamulenge will again be justified by settling account for Kipupu while this unfortunate incident took place after years of violence. There is no reason to divert attention over Banyamulenge’s vulnerability as a contested community facing such risk of genocide. Therefore, they still need to be specifically protected. More importantly, as violence escalates, the world needs to pay much attention of the vulnerable group.                 

Below are some arguments explaining why Banyamulenge needs special protection but also a humanitarian assistance. After some amendments, the paper was turned into a petition sent to the United Nations Secretary General and worldwide leaders. Here’s the Banyamulenge Global Network (BGN) letter Banyamulenge_Special_Protection   

  1. The Urgency of this Call

With all eyes on COVID-19 all over the world, an unnoticed and unprecedented tragedy is happening in Minembwe-Bijombo High Plateau in South Kivu (the Democratic Republic of Congo). Thousands of the local civilian population are now besieged in the tiny areas and are facing increasing, regular attacks[1]. Meanwhile they are completely destitute, cut off from their fields, with cattle looted and their local economy and all sources of livelihood now completely destroyed. The fear of attack and sense of threat are worsening daily in Minembwe and Bijombo in South Kivu. Wrongly defined as ‘immigrants’, the vulnerability of the Banyamulenge is easily overlooked. Although Banyamulenge are ethnically related to Tutsi of Rwanda, they are also Congolese citizens, not Rwandans.

Local Maimai (Mayi-Mayi) armed groups have vowed to wipe out the Banyamulenge community entirely. Recent confrontations have involved armed groups from neighboring countries as well, including from Burundi. The evidence is of a serious intent to impoverish, starve and kill Banyamulenge people, their villages are already destroyed and empty, their cattle all looted. The Banyamulenge can no longer sustain themselves in Minembwe and Bijombo towns. Local Maimai armed groups, based in surrounding communities, are now supported militarily and financially by Burundian opposition armed groups. There are regular and systematic attacks on Banyamulenge, justified by Maimai attackers by calling these Congolese citizens ‘invaders”. Between October 2018 and May 2020, hate propaganda has been fuelled by local media and social media, and warns of a rapid movement towards genocide[2].

This situation was more fully documented in January 2020 in a Genocide Warning[3], on the Genocide Watch website, which can be consulted for more background information. A demand for UN protection of Banyamulenge community was also communicated on 27 April 2020, by Banyamulenge representatives, who petitioned to the UN General Secretary[4]. Their petition called attention to threats facing the entire community, which risks being utterly wiped out as a result of the multiple violent conflicts taking place in South Kivu. These local and regional armed conflicts leave Minembwe completely surrounded by hostile armed groups. The Banyamulenge are also vulnerable because many other Congolese view them as “invaders”, or not “real” Congolese. This is one legacy of colonialism and “divide and rule” politics. There has already been extensive ethnic cleansing in South Kivu. This has pushed all remaining Banyamulenge out of their rural villages. They are now deprived of all livelihood, forced into tiny areas comprising limited villages, mainly Minembwe and Bijombo. Hence this call for urgent action to end the current state of siege and bring relief and protection to these civilians.

2. How the Minembwe Siege occurred

Although the causes of this ongoing tragedy are interpreted differently, the root causes of this terrible situation of vulnerability of the Congolese Banyamulenge minority arise from historical layers of violent confrontations, and contradictions, which have been exacerbated over time by the hardening of ethnic and community boundaries in South Kivu. To better understand the root causes of the present predicament of the Banyamulenge, the author will refer to studies by Kalyvas (2006)[5] and Demmers (2017).[6] Kalyvas stresses that there is a difference between criminalizing violence and war, and getting to the root causes of such violent conflict and war. Along similar lines, Demmers suggests that within any violent conflict there lies a set of core contradictions. She argues that a better analysis needs to pay attention to these core contradictions, in addition to recording the multifaceted features of violence as it is manifested.

The petition of 27 April expressed urgent concern for the entire Banyamulenge Congolese community; and, it calls for immediate involvement of the United Nations in preventing a worsening of the current humanitarian crisis in Minembwe and/around Banyamulenge. The situation on the ground is very worrying. For this reason, this note aims to support the earlier petition by indicating that there is urgency of something pragmatic and special to prevent a tragedy. It shares the worries of those who signed the initial petition in April because the matter has received limited attention. I first express my understanding of the causes of this tragedy as a scholar and advocate for human rights and peace in Eastern DRC. The urgent security situation is discussed in this short note, as well as the need for special forms of international protection. Banyamulenge can now only hope to survive if additional special international protection is established. Below are my arguments to support this urgent call for protection.

3. Layers of Hybrid Warfare: How did it Start?

Everyone who follows current information on the African Great Lakes region knows that the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has more than five decades of violent armed conflicts since the early 1960s. This recent history of constant instability and high-intensity violence, with only brief periods of relative calm in between the fighting, has characterized this region from 1996 onwards. Instability and violent conflict in Eastern Congo have had severe consequences for all communities living in the region. Yet in the longer-term, the outcome of regime change, proxy wars fought on Congolese soil, and repetitive instability has particularly affected the Banyamulenge community, as I will show. This has left this minority community in a particularly vulnerable position in the wider region, at risk of attack and with little security of any kind. Within the state of security vacuum, formerly harmonious social cohabitation with their neighboring communities has deteriorated. As of today, the Banyamulenge community which is almost confined to the highlands of Minembwe-Bijombo are very vulnerable.  Quite simply for their continued survival, they now require, and deserve, a special multilateral protection force and mechanisms to provide humanitarian assistance.

How and where did this situation arise in the first place? From early 2019, attacks on Minembwe’s rural villages, home to Banyamulenge peasants, appeared to become a sort of ‘unprecedented madness’. The years of the Decentralization process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been marked by military contestation of just one newly created Municipality in the entire country. Armed attacks on Minembwe claim to be motivated by the idea that Banyamulenge should not be allowed to control even one Municipality in the DRC, since they are regarded as “invaders” or “not true Congolese”[7]. The use of arms against Minembwe Rural Municipality, in a region mainly inhabited by members of the Banyamulenge minority, arises from local contestation of the right of this ethnic community to be present and to be represented in the Decentralisation process. Armed men, but also local and national political figures have publicly declared that Banyamulenge cannot exercise their rights including the management of Minembwe area; an idea that can be extended widely to other civic liberties. However, in other parts of Congo, one finds no similar opposition to Decentralised municipal control by one group or another.

The decentralization process was supposed to devolve some State responsibilities and resources to local administrative entities. It has been applied to hundreds of entities across the DRC without any difficulty. Yet Minembwe villages started to be attacked by gunmen disputing the legitimacy of the Minembwe Municipality for the first time between 26th February 2019 and 6th March 2019. Within a period of few months, these armed attacks on civilians and burning (and razing) of villages, spread all around the region, far from the rural municipality, covering Kamombo, Itombwe, Mibunda and Minembwe (an area of around 3,500-4,000 km2).

Since the first few months of 2019, the entire region that was formerly inhabited by members of the Banyamulenge minority community has been emptied out into some tiny area. There the population has been besieged for more than a year now. Local Maimai armed groups, and Burundian rebels (mainly Red-Tabara, Forebu, and FNL) have surrounded the besieged towns of Minembwe, Bijombo and Mikenke in South Kivu. Meanwhile, the National Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) have stood by and either facilitated killings and attacks or have been indifferent when attacks are directed at Banyamulenge civilians and at their villages, crops and cattle. Destruction of the region has taken place at the same time that the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of the Congo (MONUSCO) is deployed in the region and has been there since 2007. The UN force may be overwhelmed. Or it may be incapable of grasping the sheer complexity of local conflicts and of local identity politics. Recent violence has largely affected Banyamulenge community who are currently and systematically impoverished by the destruction of their economy and source of livelihood.

Following the destruction of roughly 300 villages, farming fields and crops burnt down with more than 125,000 cattle looted, member of Banyamulenge community have been forced to live under internally displaced people (IDPs) camps[8]. There are thousands of internally displaced people who are confined, besieged, and regularly attacked by the above cited local and foreign armed forces including Burundians. According to the United Nations Groups of Experts (UNGoEs) reports as well as from corroborated sources on the ground, Burundians have been receiving support in military, technical and financial assistance from Rwanda[9]. These foreign groups have extensively and actively participated behind local groups that contest Banyamulenge to destroy their economy and burnt down their villages.

Given the failure of government troops and MONUSCO to protect them from attacks and being besieged, the Banyamulenge community have been left to struggle by themselves. The internally displaced have used all means at their disposal to push back the regular armed attacks they face. Some Banyamulenge community members who had been serving in the national army (FARDC) started to desert in protest at the killing of Banyamulenge civilians and angered by the complete lack of protection by the army and UN of their community in South Kivu.

4. History explains dangers for the Banyamulenge

To understand why Banyamulenge are seen as “not real Congolese” it is necessary to revisit the past, including colonial and post-colonial history. For many neighbouring communities, and many other Congolese, this minority is seen as ‘foreigners’. Moreover, they are widely accused as “invaders” who exploit Congo’s resources, and acting as military and economic proxies for the interests of the political elite – considered ‘Tutsi’ in Rwanda. The debate around soldiers and commanders’ safety within the national army and police is very relevant here, as are discussions concerning the safety and protection of Banyamulenge civilians in these areas like Minembwe and Bijombo.

The last decades’ experience of rebellions has shown that Banyamulenge were generally amalgamated within these rebel groups that mostly emerged from the Kivus. Consequent to these rebellions and tragic massacres (other incidents), Banyamulenge soldiers within the army were selectively targeted and killed regardless of their personal (direct or indirect) involvement into these rebel groups. Some these cases and incidents took place in 1996, 1998, 2004[10]…. Besides those killed in Congo by 1996 when the South-Kivu Governor announced to expel Banyamulenge within 6 days, thousands were again selectively killed in 1998 in different cities of Congo following an incendiary speech on Laurent Desire Kabila’s entourage. In 2004, a horrific tragedy happened in Gatumba/Burundi and killed more than 160 innocent civilians under the UN protection. Based on recent developments and the experience in the past, the present situation is more and more dangerous for Banyamulenge soldiers who still serve in the FARDC. In earlier episodes, Banyamulenge in FARDC were killed after being accused of plotting rebellion, whether they were involved or not. They were killed simply for being Banyamulenge. Serious concern around the fate of the Banyamulenge community needs to include military officers and soldiers from this minority community[11], as well as the hundreds of thousands of civilians living in unsafe conditions and starving in Minembwe and other towns. Ethnic cleansing of the entire South Kivu region where Banyamulenge lived, has been justified by referring to the targeted community as “Kigali’s protegés”. Yet ever since finding they had been instrumentalized in 1996, the Banyamulenge military have sought to maintain a distance from the RPF and from Kigali. Indeed, their discontent was such that in 2002 there were open military clashes between the Banyamulenge and the Rwanda Defense Force (former Rwandan Patriotic Army). The Banyamulenge appear to currently have no friends in Rwanda either, since Kigali is now backing the Burundian opposition groups (Red-Tabara, Forebu, FNL). In supporting Burundian rebels who are surrounding Minembwe, and are in turn supporting the Mayi Mayi, Kigali is not only seeking to overthrow President Nkurunziza of Burundi, but also seems to be taking revenge for the previously intransigent position of most Banyamulenge fighters, and the community opposition to being allied with Rwanda.

Historically, ties between the Banyamulenge community and the RPF have been delicate; the former community have consistently refused to engage alongside Rwanda and with backing from Kigali, in any more armed violence in Eastern Congo. Banyamulenge Military officers have openly opposed Rwandan backed Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), and the Mouvement du 23 March (commonly known as M23).  As former allies, their relations have soured considerably. The divorce between the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the Banyamulenge, who want to be fully part of Congolese society, has proven painful.  Yet other local armed groups still remember the period when the Banyamulenge were allegedly allied with Rwanda and remain concerned to “settle scores” with Banyamulenge. This situation has turned the community into a vulnerable group that is paying the price of the recurring layers of warfare in the past two and a half decades. Caught in this historical time-warp, between a rock and a hard place, the fate and future of Banyamulenge justifies the need for special protection.

Unresolved local grievances that can be traced back to the 1960s were exacerbated during the 1990s and the violence that has recurred since then. By depicting Banyamulenge as “immigrants”, this community has been stigmatized and prevented from exercising their normal political and civic rights. Banyamulenge people remain ostracized by neighboring communities, who view their status as Congolese citizens as illegitimate. Early alliance between Banyamulenge elite―youth and RPF was part of Banyamulenge’s to recover rights. Nonetheless, their grievances vis a vis Congolese citizenship have served as bridge to regional warfare, as some have been recruited to the RPF. From a vulnerable position, many Banyamulenge youth have engaged along with regional power to deal with the complexity of the regional warfare. It seems their role is as scapegoat, or bouc émissaire in French. For decades now, this minority community has continued to pay the price of local militias’ revenge for the crimes of the RPA in the DRC in successive wars from 1996 onwards.  After the Rwandan army played a key role, along with Banyamulenge fighters, many of them very young, in ousting the dictator Mobutu, a strong anti-Rwandan sentiment emerged across the entire DRC. Common narratives started to connect the Banyamulenge firmly with Rwanda in the minds of the Congolese. Their origins, physical and linguistic attributes, and economic livelihoods, were viewed as close, leading to identification of Banyamulenge as Banyarwanda in many cases. Scapegoating leads to this vulnerable community being described as the source of violence and conflict, rather than the victims of these processes, and as outsiders who are “immigrants” to South Kivu and should be “driven out”.  This has already happened once, in Katanga, when in 1998 thousands of Banyamulenge were forced out by the national army and had to flee the province. Now those in South Kivu are trapped. They have nowhere to go because Rwanda and Burundi seem to be fighting proxy wars around the area where the Banyamulenge are besieged.

5. The Siege in Minembwe: New forms of “Concentration Camps”

Even though violence has been more or less constant feature of life in the South Kivu region since 1996, the latest episode of armed violence has been particularly cruel and quite unprecedented for the Banyamulenge minority. From 2017 onwards, for the first time, the Banyamulenge found themselves targeted by a broad coalition of armed groups affiliated to all their neighboring communities. They were without allies or protectors. As of today, local ethnic militia known as Maimai, from among the Bafurilo, Babembe, Banyindu, and Bavira communities have vowed to drive the Banyamulenge communities out of their lands, and out of the DRC altogether. This situation has reached extremes of hostility never experienced previously, even during periods of war. From Bijombo to Minembwe in every single corner, Banyamulenge are now being attacked to the extent they have no choice but to flee towards concentration sites, known as IDPs sites which are their last refuge, and now resemble concentration camps. The Maimai are receiving active support from Burundian rebels operating in the region and have managed to increase their military capabilities. Combatants have looted thousands of cattle that belong to the Banyamulenge, and sold these cattle for arms, also rewarding combatants with cattle from those they are persecuting, the Banyamulenge. From any estimation of a single cattle price of $300 or more, thousands of cows looted have a value of millions of US dollars. This large-scale theft has further supported armed combatants and prolonged the war. The logic of warfare and fighting is ultimately seen as being about expelling the “invaders” while their properties serve as a reward. Worries over the future of Banyamulenge if not protected arise from the stance of the so-called national army and incapable Monusco.

There have been multiple attacks on civilians, during which military commanders of the FARDC have ordered their units not to intervene. Some commanders have even sold supplies of ammunitions and guns meant for the army to rebels, for profit. Meanwhile the Banyamulenge in Kinshasa have met with the new President, Felix Tshisekedi, at least three times for talks. Yet there is no sign that the situation in South Kivu is being contained or even recognized for what it is; a plan to wipe out this community entirely. Locally, the Banyamulenge are all facing the same danger; of being attacked or of dying of hunger since there is no food in villages where local Banyamulenge are concentrated.  Few weeks, two women and one man were mutilated and killed as they were trying to access their fields within a short distance of Minembwe. Rapes, killings and other violent attacks have taken place almost within sight of military deployments. Large attacks on unarmed civilians took place in Minembwe and Itombwe shortly after President Felix Tshisekedi publicly announced (30th June 2019) that the army would launch military operations against armed groups. Regardless of his public promises, hundreds of Banyamulenge villages were burnt, some right next to military positions of the national army from July 2019 onwards. One of the strategies to wipe Banyamulenge out their homeland was to contest the presence of military commanders who belong to this community. To contain insecurity, Banyamulenge commanders were redeployed outside this region constituting the homeland of Banyamulenge. The decision to redeploy these commanders was backed by MONUSCO (informal sources argue) without any objective measure to identify other commanders who belong to hostile communities. Banyamulenge were identified physically while sources on the ground reported other commanders belonging to Babembe, Bafuliro, Banyindu… Besides MONUSCO failure to grasp the complexity of the local context, their source of intelligence and information needs also to be documented.

One problem is that MONUSCO also has to rely on intelligence from the FARDC and other state security services. Even though they are so visibly extremely vulnerable, the Banyamulenge are still painted in the media and by local political leaders (including army officers) as the source of all evil. One can also suspect the interaction of MONUSCO and Banyamulenge civilians through third parties (translators). Within a volatile and ethnically polarized―fragmented context, Banyamulenge are rarely represented within the UN system in South-Kivu. Sources from the ground indicate that there is no single member of the Banyamulenge communities who is employed by the UN peacekeeping within the translation schemes. There are questions around Monusco civil Affairs department and the representation of Banyamulenge among its staff. Therefore, one can suspect that reporting related to UN peacekeeping is generally very biased against the Banyamulenge minority and is neither objective nor neutral in its assessment of their present situation of extreme danger.

MONUSCO is also challenged by dysfunctional condition of the FARDC, which has sometimes accommodated various armed groups such as the various Maimai, working closely with them instead of imposing an end to armed violence. This may explain why MONUSCO still labels the situation in Minembwe-Bijombo as an inter-tribal conflict and fails to perceive and accept the systematic and well-organized uprooting, the ethnic cleansing and the threat of genocide of the entire Banyamulenge community.

6. Reiterating the Urgency of the Present Situation

There are now only a few Banyamulenge left in the highlands of Minembwe, and all are concentrated in three main sites of internal displacement. These are Minembwe Centre (with 120,000 displaced)[12], Bijombo (with 20,000) and Mikenke (with 2,000). A detailed account of the humanitarian crisis that these civilians are facing can be found in a recent article accessible on this link[13]. Minembwe, Mikenke and Bijombo host displaced people who are now besieged by armed groups all around them. The region is also isolated from the rest of the country and has no passable roads. The supply of humanitarian assistance is almost impossible, since it needs to be brought in by air, in helicopters or small planes. This makes survival for the surviving Banyamulenge extremely expensive. The internally displaced are starving in the areas where they are concentrated. The areas they live in have become like concentration camps in small villages. Women and children and the old are dying of hunger, simply because they cannot access their farming fields which lie within the distance of 1 or 2 kilometers. They fear the presence of the national army as much as Maimai. Those few braves who make the desperate attempt to travel out of the concentration areas, to gather food from their farms to feed their families, are often killed in particularly barbarous ways. Their bodies have been mutilated and dismembered in macabre fashion, in order to terrorize the rest of the Banyamulenge population. The aim seems to be to deter those displaced from venturing outside “camps” in which there is now very little food. The inevitable result if nothing is done, will be that the remaining Banyamulenge of the DRC will starve to death.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 threat, media attention has moved elsewhere. This makes the community’s present situation even more dangerous and urgent than before May 2020. The Banyamulenge community in South Kivu, specifically those now besieged in Minembwe and Bijombo, face the prospect of being wiped out or starving to death. Action must be taken. Hence this urgent call on the international community to intervene in order to protect and relieve this Congolese minority community.

When thousands are confined in small areas, besieged, regularly attacked, impoverished with no access to their farming fields, while there is no humanitarian assistance; one can predict that this is the final point of community cleansing. The plot against Banyamulenge goes beyond local antagonisms and involves remotely and regionally controlled armed groups while the national army has decided to operate in complicity with those attacking civilians whom they have a mission to protect.

The Congolese government has failed to protect Banyamulenge despite local and diaspora’s efforts to raise awareness around this tragedy. Moreover, the existing UN peacekeeping schemes have largely failed to protect civilians for unknown reasons (including those guessed above). As one can read, the pace to uproot Banyamulenge slowed down due to their local-defense efforts to sustain their survival. It is possible that local-defense mechanisms may prevent harsh extinction and possibly that locals will still attempt to defend themselves for a short while. However, such local-defense mechanisms tend to promote the culture of armament and militarization of civilians leading to long-term communities’ distrust. Therefore, there is a need to anticipate such tragedy and establish mechanisms of a “special international protection” to support members of this community before it is late but also to support the process of any initiative for the long-term stability of the region. Otherwise, if the international community’s intervention continues to delay, this opens breaches leading to the extinction Banyamulenge community.



[1] See for instance Radio France Internationale: One of the paragraphs of the article stipulates “Since the beginning of September, thousands of Banyamulenge have been forced to take refuge in Minembwe and remain under threat from armed groups. Through looting and military raid, they were deprived of their cows, their main source of income, and denounce the inaction of the Congolese armed forces”

[2] See for some indications:



[5] Criminalization―Medievalization of violence refers to a situation in which violence creates popular prejudice and collective victimization. See Kalyvas, S. N. (2006: 55). The Logic of Violence in Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press

[6] The author argues that within any violent conflict lies a contradiction that stands as its content. See Demmers, Jolle (2017: 61). Theories of violent conflict: An Introduction. London & New York. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

[7] See for instance Radio France Internationale:

[8] Some details over how the destruction went on, the reader can visit:

[9] See the UN Group of Experts on DRC (S/2016/466, p.11).

[10] See some indications in Ntanyoma (2019) “Behind the Scenes of the ‘Banyamulenge Military’: Momentum, Myth and Extinction”. Harmattan, Paris (

[11] See for instance Kivu Security Tracker The barometer of Kivu security indicates that “And the other Banyamulenge officers are kept under close watch by their colleagues. Three Banyamulenge officers suspected of wanting to defect – Lieutenant-Colonel Joli Mufoko Rugwe, Major Sébastien Mugemani, and Sub-Lieutenant Aimable Rukuyana Nyamugume – are under arrest in the camp of Saïo in Bukavu, according to military and local civil society sources.”

[12] The statistics and data are hard to collect within the volatile context while people keep fleeing. These are estimations received from local non-governmental originations based in the region.

[13] This is an attempt to map the area where Banyamulenge are surrounded by armed groups but also the presence of national deployment.

About admin 430 Articles
PhD & Visiting researcher @POLISatLeeds. Interest: Microeconomic Analysis of Violent Conflict, Genocide Studies and violence targeting minority groups. Congolese, blogger advocating for Equitable Redistribution of Ressources & national wealth as well as & #Justice4All #DRC. On top of that, I'm proud of being a "villageois"

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