DRC: Violence in Katanga, Introduction

Over the past few years, the people of central Katanga have been forced to flee their homes over and over again; each time losing everything they own to escape violence. Many eventually arrive to impromptu camps or settle in villages where little assistance awaits them; others are feared trapped in the bush. Without help and with little hope to return home, their situation remains unacceptable.

Neither the Government nor the international community have shown an adequate commitment to fulfill their responsibilities to protect and assist these civilians in need. Violence has held sway across much of central Katanga since at least 1998, when many people found themselves trapped along the front-line between the Rwandan-supported RCD-Goma on the one hand, and the Congolese Government army and Mai-Mai militia on the other.

By the early 2000s, as peace agreements were signed, power-sharing arrangements made and official support for the Mai-Mai dwindled, a different form of conflict began to emerge. Having long been the informal suppliers of foodstuffs for both FARDC troops and Mai-Mai militia, civilian populations are increasingly abused, attacked and manipulated. Meanwhile, military operations against insurgent parties are resulting in massive population displacement further increasing vulnerability to disease, malnutrition and mental trauma in areas where adequate emergency relief is almost entirely absent.