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World Fragile hopes in DR Congo's Ituri province, scarred by conflict

13:16  28 september  2020
13:16  28 september  2020 Source:   msn.com

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The Ituri conflict (French: Guerre d' Ituri ) was a major conflict between the agriculturalist Lendu and pastoralist Hema ethnic groups in the Ituri region of the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the

Congo ’ s northeastern province of Ituri erupted in December 2017 and escalated into tit-for-tat The return of crisis in Ituri is particularly alarming because during the Second Congo War (1998-2003), the province the conflict by using these cultural affiliations to strengthen their military positions, and

"The future is dark," sighs Joachim Lobo, a teacher who longs "to pick up the chalk" and be reunited with his pupils, if ever peace is restored to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

a man standing in a room: School teacher Joachim Lobo says the conditions in the displaced camp are dire © ALEXIS HUGUET School teacher Joachim Lobo says the conditions in the displaced camp are dire a person standing next to a train: A passer-by looks inside an overturned truck in the middle of National Road 27 in Ituri © ALEXIS HUGUET A passer-by looks inside an overturned truck in the middle of National Road 27 in Ituri

"I lost my job because of all this nonsense," Lobo says of communal violence in the gold-rich Ituri province, where he taught French and philosophy, speaking with a restraint and modesty characteristic of Congolese people in the face of suffering.

DRC: an ethnic identification commission created in Ituri to calm tensions

 DRC: an ethnic identification commission created in Ituri to calm tensions © ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP A United Nations vehicle patrols in the region of Djugu, Ituri, in March 2018 (illustration). In Ituri, community tensions are still high in some areas, particularly between local populations and other recent arrivals in the region. The province of Ituri has decided to set up a commission to identify the latter. With our correspondence in Kinshasa, Patient Ligodi Some have arrived in Ituri for several years. Others, a few months ago.

DR Congo ' s troubled Ituri province . Fifty-eight people have been killed in attacks in a restive province of eastern DR Congo , local officials said on Thursday, blaming a notorious militia. Conflict erupted between the Lendu, mainly farmers, and the Hema, herders and traders, in the gold-mining

DR Congo + 2 more. What’ s happening in Ituri ? Source. Congo Research Group. The violence marks a counterpoint to the general trend in the province ––while violence has persisted and even escalated in the Kivu provinces over the past decade, Ituri had been relatively peaceful.

a group of people walking in front of a house: Internally displaced children play in the courtyard of the Minor Seminary, destroyed during the Ituri War (1999-2003), in Fataki © ALEXIS HUGUET Internally displaced children play in the courtyard of the Minor Seminary, destroyed during the Ituri War (1999-2003), in Fataki

"You see how we can be revolted."

At 60, the father of nine children has become one of tens of thousands of civilians displaced in Ituri since the violence resumed in December 2017 in the Djugu and Mahagi areas.

In 2019, he fled Sombuso, his natal village in the ravaged Djugu territory.

Lobo lives today in a displaced persons camp at Loda, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from his home and located close to a base of the foreign troops serving in the UN mission in the Congo (MONUSCO).

Wangari Maathai et al. in uniform: Militiamen, including children, of the armed group Codeco © ALEXIS HUGUET Militiamen, including children, of the armed group Codeco

The daily conditions are dire, he says. "No latrines, no food, no drinking water, no medical care."

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Despite being in DR Congo since 1999, UN peacekeepers have so far failed to bring peace to its eastern region. The Ituri killings are one of the cruelest chapters in the history of the conflict -ridden eastern DR Many people from Ituri Province in DRC have fled the violence to neighboring Uganda.

In just a few weeks, over 22,000 Congolese refugees have landed on Ugandan shores to escape ethnic fighting in DR Congo ' s Ituri province . At least four

Lobo belongs to the Hema community, traditionally known as stockbreeders and traders, and he left Sombuso to escape the brutality of one wing of the Congo Development Cooperative (Codeco) created by Lendu people.

Experts explain that the Codeco appears to bring together several sects of militia fighters who claim to defend the property rights of the Lendu farming communities in the Djugu territory.

a group of people walking down a dirt road: Heavily armed militiamen from the Cooperation for the Development of Congo (CODECO) negotiate peace terms with former warlords sent as peace emissaries of peace by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi © Alexis HUGUET Heavily armed militiamen from the Cooperation for the Development of Congo (CODECO) negotiate peace terms with former warlords sent as peace emissaries of peace by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi

- 'A responsible government' -

Lendu militias, known for animist beliefs and rituals, are held responsible for the massacre of several hundred Hema civilians.

This is not the first time that "Papa Joachim" fled violence in Ituri, to become a living memory of the wounds of two decades and more.

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DR Congo ' s troubled eastern provinces . More. Fifty-eight people have been killed in the eastern DR Congo province of Ituri , the province ' s interior minister told AFP on Thursday, attributing the massacres to a notorious militia.

Bunia, DR Congo , Sept 10 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Sep, 2020 ) :Fifty-eight people have been killed in the eastern DR Congo province of Ituri , the province ' s interior minister told AFP on Thursday, attributing the massacres to a notorious militia. Twenty-three people were killed in Irumu

In 1999, he abandoned his home after the outbreak of the Second Congo War (1998-2003), which saw the armies of more than half a dozen African countries enter the vast DRC. Violence cost tens of thousands of lives in Ituri.

At the time, the Lendu and the Hema were killing each other in militia attacks, which were stopped in 2003 by Operation Artemis, a military intervention by a European Union Force (EUFOR) backed by the United Nations.

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Intra-communal violence in Ituri province , northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo , has forced 300,000 people to flee their homes. Democrartic Republic of Congo Some of the camps for displaced people located in Ituri Province . An endless conflict . In this region, violent conflict between

Read the latest DR Congo headlines, on NewsNow: the one-stop shop for DR Congo news. DRC : another journalist arrested on complaint by Sankuru province governor Reporters Without ITURI : MONUSCO intervenes to address starvation concerns at Bunia Central Prison United Nations

When violence resumed in 2017, there were marked differences from the wartime clashes.

The Hema have not reconstituted their militias and Lendu public figures condemn the raids committed in their name by Codeco forces.

Neighbouring Uganda appears to be playing no role across the border in Ituri, after being convicted by the International Court of Justice in 2005 of unlawful armed aggression and violation of territorial sovereignty during "Africa's Great War".

The court ordered Uganda to pay reparations to DR Congo, but today commerce in gold from Bunia in Ituri and Butembo in North Kivu province to Uganda's Entebbe international airport is doing well, according to the NGO Impact, which seeks to help artisanal miners.

"The future is dark," Papa Joachim says. "We thought we would have a responsible government, yet we don't know when we can return to our land."

Invested in January 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi denounced "attempted genocide" and a "plot" during a rare visit to Bunia in July that year, at the height of an outbreak of violence.

He announced a "large-scale" military operation dubbed "Ituri Tempest" against the attackers, which led to the killing of a Codeco chief.

- 'A rebel like you' -

A year later, Tshisekedi despatched a delegation of former militia chiefs from the time of the Second Congo War to negotiate the surrender of pro-Lendu fighters.

The team was led by Floribert Ndjabu, a man who served 15 years in preventive detention on  suspicion of the murder of nine UN peacekeeping troops in 2005.

"I told them: 'I was a rebel like you — you have nothing to teach me,'" Ndjabu said to AFP.

The outcome of talks has been a noticeable decline in the number of deadly raids, according to the testimony of witnesses.

Key roads that had been blockaded, such as the RN27 linking DR Congo and Uganda, are once again open to traffic but the vehicles are escorted by the military, AFP saw.

Part of the population remains sceptical about any peace process.

"We need military pressure, with means sufficient to allow the army to secure the population and enforce peace, while justice should take care of the criminals," said Agathe Gipatho, a 60-year-old peasant woman, during an exchange with members of the Alur community in Nioka.

"People are tending to return to their villages," said Dieudonne Kpadyu Mnyoro. "But their key concern is safety, an end to the violence."

A trader and chief of a Hema village, Mnyoro and more than 1,200 families took refuge last March in the ruined buildings at Fataki, a Roman Catholic parish destroyed in the Second Congo War.

In Ituri, religious edifices are like men and women. They all bear the scars of conflict.

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