Congo: political jockeying results in 241,000 refugees

"In the first quarter of 2012, in North Kivu alone, displaced people increased by 241,000," according to Fr. Loris Cattani, a Catholic priest who works with the Peace Network for Congo. The population of North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has been forced to flee from violence committed by soldiers who have deserted the army. The deserters are belong to the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which was integrated into the national army in 2009 (according to the peace agreements). However, they remain under the command of General Bosco Ntaganda, who is accused of crimes against humanity and wanted by the International Criminal Court. According to the UN, the total number of people displaced in the DRC are over 2 million.

Peace Network for Congo denounced the violence committed by military deserters in North and South Kivu previously. According to recent reports, it is northern Congo where the most serious violence is taking place. "In South Kivu it seems that the mass defection of the military has gone back to normal: many deserters have returned to the ranks of the regular army while some commanders who had incited the rebellion were arrested," said Fr. Cattani.

The situation in North Kivu, says Fr. Cattani, stems from that fact that Bosco Ntaganda has his stronghold in the North, especially in the territory of Masisi. "I am not sure why this is happening, but there are some hypothesis," continued the missionary. "Surely there is a reaction on behalf of soldiers of the CNDP due to the increased international pressure on the government in Kinshasa so that it hands over Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court. One cannot exclude, also, an attempt by the CNDP, which has turned into a political party, to intimidate the population of the territory of Masisi in view of the parliamentary elections that are to be held in two months. But this is only a personal hypothesis " said Father. Cattani. In Masisi legislative elections were canceled for the riots that had occurred, and in the time being the CNDP has no deputies in Parliament.

Filed under crime, politics, africa, congo, human rights, un, icc, politics, Africa

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