CAPE TOWN, October 21 – Citizens, celebrities and influencers have taken to social media joining calls on governments to put an end to ongoing massacres and violence in the strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to the United Nations, more than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of this year by armed groups in DRC, three times more than in the same period in 2019.
The latest DRC massacre has claimed thousands of lives, with many others internally displaced and many seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
Under the hashtag #CongoIsBleeding users have called for prayers and spread awareness to end the violence.
Eastern DRC has been unstable for nearly 30 years, its population terrorised by dozens of militia groups that are chiefly the legacy of two major wars.
Violence in the gold mining region of Ituri has raged since December 2017. The flare-up has pitched the Hema ethnic group, who are predominantly herders, against the Lendu community, who are mostly sedentary farmers, according to news broadcaster Al Jazeera.
The UN warned that some of the latest attacks could amount to crimes against humanity.
As in Ituri, civilians are caught up in escalating conflicts in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and the southeastern province of Tanganyika.
Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that armed fighters freed more than 1,300 prisoners from a jail in Beni in east DRC in a coordinated attack that took place in the early hours of Tuesday.
Mayor Modeste Bakwanamaha said only about 100 remained following the simultaneous assault on the Kangbayi central prison and on the military camp that provides security to it.
Bakwanamaha blamed the attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in DRC since the 1990s.
The rebel group has killed thousands of civilians despite repeated military campaigns aimed at destroying it.
A report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in August, however, revealed that fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020.