On 11 July 2013, four members of a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team conducting an exploratory mission to assess medical needs in Kamango in North Kivu province in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were abducted during an attack on the village by the armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
The ADF continues to fuel a climate of terror in this region wedged between the Rwenzori Mountains and the dense forests of Virunga National Park where abduction is commonplace. Like the MSF team, hundreds of people, most of them Congolese but also Ugandans, Burundians and Tanzanians, have disappeared, giving the conflict a regional dimension.
The day following the abduction, MSF set up a special unit to find our colleagues. On 29 August 2014, taking advantage of military operations launched by the Congolese army against the ADF, one of the MSF team taken hostage in Kamango - Chantal Kaghoma - managed to flee after over 13 months of detention. Very sadly, while many other hostages escaped their jailers during the same period, we are still without news of Philippe Bundya Musongelwa, Richard Muhindo Matabishi and Romy Ya-Dunia Ntibanyendera.
Despite our efforts, and the escalation in violence in DRC and more particularly in North Kivu, MSF has still not ascertained the whereabouts of our three colleagues. We continue our investigations, not only in DRC but also across its borders, and to support the families of our three missing colleagues.
That ADF - as well as other armed groups in the region - continue to exist after so many years cannot be explained solely by geographic remoteness or the group’s modus operandi. It could neither subsist nor operate without intermediaries and outside support. MSF continues its inquiries but, without the help of local as well as regional social, economic and political stakeholders, the fate of our colleagues and hundreds of other people remains uncertain. We call on decision-makers and those with influence in both DRC and across the region to commit to obtaining the hostages’ release and bring this matter to a swift and positive conclusion.