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IPIS Briefing January 2021 – Armed groups challenging opportunities for responsible gold mining in Beni

The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade.  Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.

In focus: Armed groups challenging opportunities for responsible gold mining in Beni

In the news: Dan Gertler échappe aux sanctions américaines; Beny Steinmetz, a Mining Magnate, Found Guilty in Swiss Corruption Trial; Illicit financial flows hinder development in Africa – the UN must rise to the challenge of ending this.

New subscribers can register here to receive the briefing and updates on IPIS’ new maps and reports.

This briefing is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


IN FOCUS: ARMED GROUPS CHALLENGING OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESPONSIBLE GOLD MINING IN BENI

 

In the last decade Beni territory in North Kivu has gained notoriety for high levels of insecurity linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and the 2018 Ebola outbreak. The health crisis, violence and population displacements have seriously affected the local economy.

IPIS and its partners ASADHO, ASSODIP and CEGEMI, have been working since 2019 to assess the potential of the area’s artisanal gold mining sector to contribute to peace and stability. This work has been supported by the project “Ensemble Pour Beni”(1).

While Beni’s gold mining sector has been neglected for many years, and production levels are affected by persistent insecurity, there is an important potential for gold to contribute to local development and poverty reduction. Late 2019, IPIS mapped more than thirty mining sites, just in the North and West of the territory.

A wide range of challenges exist to realize more responsible gold mining and trade, including issues related to governance, working conditions, child labour, mining cooperatives, and legal permits. This article will however highlight the issues related to insecurity and the interference of armed groups in gold mining. Armed group activity continuous to be an important threat to gold miners, -traders and the Beni population in general (2).

The mines in the north of the territory are affected by ADF rebels, while the ones to the west of Beni are regularly harassed by several Mai Mai groups.

In brief, the main challenges related to insecurity around Beni’s gold mines include: a delayed Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process; failed (military) strategies against ADF; and corruption and human rights violations by state security forces.

DELAYED DDR

To the west of Beni town a string of interesting gold mining sites is located around the trading hubs of Mangina, Mununze, Ngoyo, Cantine, Mabalako and Visiki. In July 2020, the local multi-stakeholder committee (CLS-Beni, Comité Local de Suivi) sent a Qualification Mission to the area, with the joint support of Pact’s Sustainable Mine Site Validation project (SMSV) and “Ensemble pour Beni” (via IPIS).

The security situation is relatively calm in this area, as several Mai Mai groups expressed their willingness to lay down their arms. In July 2019, hundreds of combatants of the Union des Patriotes pour la Libération du Congo (UPLC) (3) surrendered to the FARDC. They responded to DRC President Félix Tshisekedi’s call to cease fighting. Interviewees testified to ASADHO and ASSODIP in September-October 2019 that the security situation improved considerably following these events, as the Mai Mai groups were less hostile than they used to be (4).

UPLC, also known as Mai Mai Kilalo, mainly operates in the area between Beni and Butembo, more in particular around Visiki, Mabuku, Kyavisogho and Vurondo. IPIS’ research revealed that the group is also quite active more northwards, to the West of Beni town, around Mabalako, Kiboto and Ngoyo (Tokou mining site).

Ever since a formal demobilization ceremony in October 2019, very little progress has been made. Moreover, at a meeting of the Interprovincial Committee to Support the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Community Reintegration (CIAP-DDRC) in Butembo mid-October 2020, UPLC’s spokesperson Jean-Marie Kakule Liso complained about bad living conditions at the cantonment site in Kalunguta, as they were waiting for the DDR process to be launched.

The provincial MP Saidi Balikwisha raised this problem late 2020, stating: “There are more than 1.000 former combatants who are willing to disarm, but they are not being ‘taken care of’. The population of Mabalako, Ngadi, Mabuku, Lisasa, and Kalunguta suffer from these men’s harassments as they have nothing to eat. These former rebels are living on the back of the population”.

Impact on gold mining

IPIS’ research in November 2019 revealed that UPLC elements regularly harrassed nearly all of the gold mines to the west and southwest of Beni town (5). Just a few examples:

  • At Kitokolo/Kithokolo (near Mabalako), UPLC obliged all miners to pay 3US$ per month;
  • In the trading hub of Ngoyo (near Tokou mining site), UPLC levied a 5US$ monthly fee from all gold traders, shopkeepers and restaurant holders;
  • At the mining site Saba Saba, each digger had to pay a tige of gold per month (which was about 7,000 Franc Congolais (FC), or 4.2 US$, at the time of the survey);
  • At Mabuku mining site, the Mai Mai installed a monthly tax of 3,000 FC per miner, as well as taxes for local traders, and 500 FC for each person entering the site;

UPLC also obliges people to contribute every week to community work (Salongo) to maintain local roads in the areas where it operates, e.g in Mabuku (November 2019). Each person receives a jeton for his or her contribution. Refusal to participate can result in serious physical mistreatment.

Surveys organized in 2020 revealed that these interferences were ongoing. In October 2020, Mai Mai UPLC presence was reported at the mines of Kiboto (Kikuka, Mazembe, Satellite) and Tokou. For example, at Kiboto, all people selling alcohol have to pay 5,000 FC (about 2.5 US$) per month to the FARDC and 5,000 FC to UPLC. There are about 10 vendors of alcohol on site. At Tokou, the mining cooperatives reportedly even suspended mining activities due to the Mai Mai’s interference.

Besides interference at the level of the mining sites, there have also been reports of roadblocks. In October 2020, UPLC and FARDC roadblocks were reported at all of the roads leading towards the mines of Cantine, Mabalako and Visiki. All travellers passing by were forced to pay 500 or 1000 FC for ‘passage libre’.

Through Kufatilia, the CLS-Beni had been alerted in October 2020 of the presence of UPLC at the mining site Soma, near their Kalunguta cantonment site. Mining state agents were no longer permitted to access the site. The CLS-Beni asked the Territorial Administrator to address this issue with the Mai Mai, requesting the latter to leave the mine and stay in the Kalunguta camp, awaiting their demobilisation. The Mai Mai however explained that they lack food at the camp, so they have to mine, and collect (illegal) levies along roadblocks to make a living.

Other local armed groups

Other armed groups also operate in the same area, west and southwest of Beni. Several of them are allies of UPLC.

The Alliance des Patriotes pour le Salut Intégral du Congo (APASICO) is based in Mambale, some kilometres north east of Visiki. In 2019, the research teams were unable to visit the mining site Mapeti-Mapendano due to the presence of these Mai Mai. Miners reportedly had to pay 6,000 FC per week to APASICO, and its men were also involved in mining themselves.

More recently in the second half of 2020, ‘Kufatilia’ received a report about the presence of and illegal taxation by APASICO further north, at Tokou (Ngoyo).

Furthermore, during surveys in June and October 2020, IPIS surveyors reported visits of some Mai Mai Mazembe at Kisitu and Kaichokea, and Mai Mai Nguru (allegedly also linked to UPLC) occasionally passed by Kikundo, Kisitu and Tokou.

FAILED STRATEGIES TO DEAL WITH ADF

IPIS’ briefing of February 2020 discussed how the FARDC launched a military operation against the ADF. The army initially managed to capture some ADF strongholds in the so-called ‘triangle of death’ – between Eringeti, Mbau and Kamango (to the east of the Beni-Eringeti axis). This progress, however, soon led to revenge killings by the ADF and increased levels of insecurity for the local population.

Early 2020, local observers had already flagged that ADF created insecurity beyond the ‘triangle of death’. As most massacres had occurred to the west of the Beni-Eringeti axis. Throughout 2020, violence linked to ADF spread towards the secteurs of Watalinga and Rwenzori (to the east and south-east of Beni town).

High levels of insecurity and the presence of ADF in this part of Beni – more in particular to the north of Beni town – prevent any efforts to promote responsible mining and gold trade more in general. In 2019, IPIS has mapped a dozen mining sites in this area, around Mamove and along the Eringeti-Kainama axis. Roughly estimated, more than 620 miners were digging for gold in these mining sites.

At that time people reported that ADF regularly raided these mining sites, and its members were allegedly digging gold at the mining sites of Lese 2 and Yedi/Lusaka.

In 2020, insecurity continued to affect the gold mining sector in the area. In July and August 2020, quite some fighting was reported between ADF and the FARDC, also close to the mining sites:

  • July 2020, fighting occurred at the site of Baeti/Asefu: 6 people were killed, 35 gold miners got injured, and the ADF stole an estimated 80 grammes of gold (value of about 3.000 or 4.000 US$);
  • July 2020, fighting at the level of the village Mukondi (close to the mine). 12 people were brutally killed, and 100 grammes of gold got stolen;
  • August 2020, ADF invaded Bango/Abia, after fighting FARDC. 5 people died, and 50 grammes of gold stolen.

ILLEGAL TAXATION BY STATE SECURITY AGENTS

Insecurity impedes state agents of protecting miners, the wider community, and to support the artisanal mining sector. On top of that, a lot of state security agents in Beni do not enjoy a very good reputation either. They are regularly accused of illegal taxation and extorsion, and sometimes even human rights violations.

IPIS’ research in 2019, revealed a lot of illegal taxation by Mining Police and/or army units all over Beni-Mbau, sometimes at the level of the mine, but more frequently at roadblocks along trading routes (6).

  • Along the main axis from Beni to Cantine and Mabalako, the military levied taxes at multiple roadblocks, i.e. at Nduka, Kithokolo, Mambalimbali and Mangato. At all of the roadblocks motorbikes and vehicles had to pay 500 FC or 1,000 FC (so-called ‘café’). People consider roadblocks as an FARDC-tool to tax people, rather than to provide security;
  • At several mining sites along the Eringeti-Kainama axis (north of Beni), FARDC had been accused of holding a monopoly over the trade of cigarettes and hemp.

Also over the past few months, numerous incidents have been reported through Kufatilia, and the CLS-Beni has regularly discussed issues with regards to Mining Police and the FARDC. Illegal taxation at roadblocks ranging between 200 and 1,500 FC were most common, for example at Mabalako, Kolikoko (Oicha-Mamove axis), and Mbau-Kamango axis.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Strictly speaking, none of the mining sites in the secteur Beni-Mbau meets the criteria to be qualified green – meaning safe and without armed group interference – and be validated by the Ministry of Mines.

Armed groups are present all over the territory, also in the vicinity of the gold mines. It is however important to recognize that due diligence requirements in mineral supply chains in conflict-affect areas demand a process-oriented approach, instead of “all-or-nothing”.

Through the project “Ensemble pour Beni”, IPIS, ASADHO and ASSODIP have noted that there are important actors of change in Beni, including local authorities, civil society, mining cooperatives and the CLS-Beni. These stakeholders can increase scrutiny of the mining sector, and promote more responsible practices, when they enjoy sufficient support.

The prospects for more responsible gold mining and trade north of Beni town are quite meager for the moment. The high levels of insecurity, linked to ADF, make any initiative impossible for the moment.

To the west and southwest of Beni town, on the other hand, opportunities do exist to promote more responsible gold mining and trade. Mai Mai groups still operate in the area, but they are no longer very hostile since they stepped into a DDR process almost 2 years ago. Reviving that process is crucial to address armed groups’ interference in gold mining in the area. Furthermore, addressing misbehaviour by FARDC and Mining Police elements, is another important challenge to promote a more responsible gold supply chain.

Ken Matthysen

 

(1) A stabilization project coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has been supported by the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (ISSSS) and the DR Congo’s National Stabilization and Reconstruction Program (STAREC).

(2) IPIS, ASADHO and ASSODIP, L’exploitation minière artisanale à Beni-Mbau : Etat des lieux et cartographie des sites miniers, commissioned by IOM, October 2020. (https://ipisresearch.be/publication/lexploitation-miniere-artisanale-a-beni-mbau-etat-des-lieux-et-cartographie-des-sites-miniers/)

(3) The Mai Mai group UPLC, also known as Mai Mai Kilalo, was created in 2016 and is commanded by Katembo Kilalo and Mambari Bini Pélé (alias Saperita). It has established alliances with other Mai Mai groups (e.g. Mazembe factions in Lubero territory and APASICO) and allegedly defends the Nande community against the ADF threat. The UN Group of Experts estimated the number of combatants at around 400 in 2019, and it reported that UPLC was responsible for attacks on Butembo (in 2016) and Lubero (in 2017-2018). Sources: Kivu Security Tracker (https://kivusecurity.org/about/armedGroups), Group of Experts on DRC, Reports 2017, 2018 and 2019. (S/2017/672, S/2018/531, S/2019/469)

(4) IPIS, ASADHO and ASSODIP (October 2020), op.cit.

(5) IPIS, ASADHO and ASSODIP (October 2020), op.cit.

(6) IPIS, ASADHO and ASSODIP (October 2020), op.cit.

FURTHER READING

Nord-Kivu : la persistance des tueries dans la région de Beni au cœur d’une réunion autorités-évêques catholiques | 19 January 2021 | Radio Okapi

Ituri : les miliciens Codeco menacent d’attaquer la commune de Mungbwalu, à Djugu | 19 January 2021 | MediaCongo.net

RDC : seulement 3 Kg d’or issus de l’exploitation artisanale retracés par le ministère des Mines au 1er semestre 2020, la fraude se porte bien | 20 November 2020 | actualite.cd

Mining in Africa and beyond: Tracking the great gold rush | 13 November 2020 | The Africa Report

L’exploitation minière artisanale à Beni-Mbau : Etat des lieux et cartographie des sites miniers | 30 October 2020 | IPIS vzw

RDC: la milice NDC-R se livre à une guerre intestine mortelle au Nord-Kivu | 18 July 2020 | RFI

Le NDC-Rénové détrône Guidon, qui avait détrôné Sheka | 10 July 2020 | Blog Kivu Security

DRC gold worth billions being smuggled out, says UN | 15 June 2020 | Mining.com

Lettre datée du 2 juin 2020, adressée au Président du Conseil de sécurité par le Groupe d’experts sur la République démocratique du Congo, S/2020/482 | 2 June 2020 | UN

Rapport – Pour l’armée, avec l’armée, comme l’armée ? | 13 May 2020 | Congo Research Group

Transparency and Formalization of Gold Supply Chains in Eastern DR Congo | 12 May 2020 | IPIS vzw

RDC : Près de 84,6 % des sites miniers artisanaux exploités illégalement à Beni et Lubero | 27 August 2019 | deskeco.com

Beni : le chef du groupe Maï-Maï UPLC se dit prêt à déposer les armes | 5 July 2019 | Radio Okapi

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The US has taken steps with the Corporate Transparency Act to eliminate the potential use of anonymous shell companies for money laundering and tax evasion.

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ARMS TRADE

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CONFLICT

Ituri : les miliciens de la CODECO assiègent le carré minier de Mongwalu Gold Mining | 29 January 2021 | Radio Okapi

Des miliciens de la CODECO lourdement armés, accompagnés de centaines d’orpailleurs, ont envahi depuis jeudi soir une partie du carré minier de la compagnie Mongwalu dans la cité minière qui porte le même nom dans le territoire de Djugu (Ituri).

Ituri : Un chef rebelle de la CODECO recherché par l’armée pour “crime contre l’humanité et crime de guerre” | 26 January 2021 | Politico.cd

Les Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) recherchent un chef du groupe rebelle de la CODECO/ALC, à savoir Maki Ghessi Justin alias “Petit Loup de la Montagne”. Ce dernier est accusé de crime contre l’humanité et crime de guerre.

RCA : violent combat dans la localité de Boda, les rebelles et les populations en fuite | 25 January 2021 | Corbeau News

À peine arrivés à Bangui, les mercenaires russes ont été déployés immédiatement avec les forces rwandaises et les soldats FACA dans la localité de Boda, à 85 kilomètres de Mbaïki, dans la préfecture de la Lobaye. Aussitôt, ils ont affronté les rebelles dans le village Danga, à une vingtaine de kilomètres de Boda sur l’axe Mbaïki. Su place, les rebelles sont en débandade, y compris les populations locales. On parle désormais des mercenaires contre les mercenaires.

The Islamic State in Mozambique | 24 January 2021 | Lawfare

Although the militant Islamist insurgency in Mozambique has been brewing since late 2017, it was only when Islamic State-affiliated militants captured the northeastern port city of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province in mid-August 2020 that it gained the world’s attention.

ICC has arrested Central African Republic war crimes suspect Said | 24 January 2021 | Reuters

RCA : transfert de Mahamat Saïd à la CPI, le FPRC lance un ultimatum à la Minusca | 24 January 2021 | Corbeau News

The International Criminal Court on Sunday said it had taken into custody a former Central African Republic commander of the “Seleka” faction suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Les défis de l’armée tchadienne | 22 January 2021 | ICG

Acteur important de la lutte contre le terrorisme au Sahel, l’armée tchadienne est aussi une source d’instabilité potentielle pour le pays. Les autorités tchadiennes, appuyées par leurs partenaires internationaux, devraient rendre l’armée plus représentative et professionnelle et soutenir des garde-fous pour décourager d’éventuelles violences en cas de crise de succession.

Outside Powers Are Making the Conflict in the Central African Republic Worse | 22 January 2021 | Foreign Policy

Proxy wars pitting France and Chad against Russia and Rwanda threaten to destabilize the entire region while subjecting Central Africans to more violence and instability.

Surging Inter-Ethnic Violence in Sudan’s Darfur Region Leaves Hundreds Dead, Injured | 22 January 2021 | VoA

The U.N. Human Rights Office is calling for increased security in Sudan’s volatile Darfur region, where a recent surge in inter-communal violence has resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries, and mass displacement.

Mali villagers say French bombs hit wedding -Human Rights Watch | 21 January 2021 | Reuters

Three villagers in northern Mali told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that a French air strike this month hit a wedding party attended by civilians, disputing French claims that only Islamist militants were hit.

RDC: des pygmées massacrés par dizaines en Ituri | 20 January 2021 | RFI

En République démocratique du Congo (RDC), les pygmées ne laissent pas passer sous silence le massacre d’une quarantaine d’entre eux, la semaine dernière, lors d’une attaque attribuée par les autorités de la province de l’Ituri aux combattants des Forces démocratiques alliés (ADF), contre le village de Abembi.

EU to partner with Mozambique in curbing rising insurgency in Cabo Delgado province | 20 January 2021 | Africa News

The European Union has agreed to partner with Mozambique in curbing a surge in armed violence attributed to extremist Islamic groups in Cabo Delgado province. The EU cooperation with Mozambique is seen as a key element in bolstering security levels in the coastal province.

UN chief calls for protection of civilians as violence spikes in Sudan’s West Darfur | 18 January 2021 | UN News

According to media reports, at least 83 people, including women and children, have been killed and more than 160 wounded in inter-communal clashes this weekend. Several houses are also said to have been destroyed and about 50,000 people displaced.

Tensions in Central Africa: Forcible recruitment, killings and looting among rebels’ confessions | 18 January 2021 | EU Reporter

Rebel Attack Heightens Risk of War in Russia’s African Ally | 19 January 2021 | Bloomberg

Rebels who attacked the capital of the Central African Republic do not understand what they are fighting for. Central African Republic television showed footage of an interrogation of one of the rebels captured during the attack on Bangui, who said that opponents of the current CAR authorities keep rank-and-file fighters in the dark about their plans and objectives.

The Epic Hunt for One of the World’s Most Wanted Men | 19 January 2021 | GQ

He was one of Africa’s richest moguls and helped unleash the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Then Félicien Kabuga vanished and stayed hidden for more than two decades—until recently, when the United Nations’ war crimes detectives picked up his trail and began to close in.

Nigeria : des djihadistes prennent le contrôle d’une importante base militaire, une opération est en cours | 16 January 2021 | RTBF

Nigeria: l’armée reprend le contrôle de la base militaire de Marte | 18 January 2021 | Sahel Intelligence

Des djihadistes présumés affiliés au groupe Etat islamique en Afrique de l’Ouest (Iswap) ont pris le contrôle de la base militaire de Marte, dans le Nord-Est du Nigeria, vendredi soir, ont rapporté samedi des sources militaires à l’AFP.

Museveni Declared Winner in Uganda; Military Blocks Opposition Candidate’s Home | 16 January 2021 | VoA

End politically motivated detention of Robert Kyagulanyi and his wife | 20 January 2021 | Amnesty International

Uganda’s electoral commission on Saturday declared President Yoweri Museveni the winner of the 2021 general elections. Meanwhile, Ugandan military and police surrounded the home of opposition leader and presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine.

Boko Haram’s Pan-Nigerian Affiliate System after the Kankara Kidnapping: A Microcosm of Islamic State’s ‘External Provinces’ | 15 January 2021 | Terrorism Monitor | The Jamestown Foundation

On December 11, 2020, around 300 male students were kidnapped from a Kankara, Katsina State school in northwestern Nigeria (TheCable, December 13, 2020). The attack was inconsistent with typical northwestern Nigeria banditry operations involving smaller-scale kidnapping and extortion, pillaging, and assassination of local political enemies that have escalated in northwestern Nigerian in recent years. The attack was, however, consistent with the past activities of the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau.

RDC-Ituri: au moins 647 morts, dont 115 enfants, entre mai et décembre 2020, les appels à plus d’engagement dans la lutte contre les assaillants se multiplient | 15 January 2021 | Actualite.cd

Au moins 647 morts, dont 120 femmes et 115 enfants, entre mai et décembre 2020 ont été recensés par le Bureau conjoint des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme (BCNUDH). Ces violences sont attribuées aux combattants de divers groupes armés: Coopérative de développement économique du Congo (CODECO), Forces patriotiques intégrationnistes du Congo (FPIC) et Front populaire d’autodéfense en Ituri (FPAC)/Zaïre, etc. Ces attaques touchent maintenant les territoires de Djugu, Mahagi et Irumu.

RDC-Ituri: à part la CODECO, les FPIC et les FPAC/Zaïre, deux nouveaux groupes armés, endeuillent les populations d’Irumu | 15 January 2021 | Actualite.cd

Les violences se poursuivent dans la province de l’Ituri (Est de la RDC). Les attaques se sont étendues ces derniers mois des territoires de Djugu et Mahagi au territoire d’Irumu et se sont intensifiées avec deux nouveaux groupes armés, les FPIC proches de la communauté Bira, et les FPAC/Zaïre proches de la communauté Hema, rapportent la MONUSCO et le BCNUDH.

Assassinat de Laurent-Désiré Kabila : 20 ans plus tard, le mystère reste entier | 15 January 2021 | RTBF

Le 16 janvier 2001, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, président de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), est assassiné dans sa résidence de Kinshasa par un de ses gardes du corps. Rashidi Mizele Kasereka, l’auteur des coups de feu, sera abattu dans sa fuite par Eddy Kapend, l’aide de camp du président Kabila.

RDC: 46 Pygmées tués dans une attaque des combattants ADF en Ituri | 15 January 2021 | La Libre Afrique

Quarante-six Pygmées ont été tués jeudi dans une attaque des combattants du groupe armé Forces démocratiques alliées (ADF) dans la région troublée de l’Ituri, dans le Nord-Est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), a-t-on appris vendredi de sources locales. Le bilan de l’attaque est « de 46 personnes tuées et deux blessés, toutes de la communauté pygmée, dans cette incursion des rebelles ADF », a déclaré à l’AFP Gili Gotabo, président de la société civile du territoire d’Irumu. Adjio Gigi, ministre provincial de l’Intérieur de l’Ituri, a confirmé ce bilan, attribuant l’attaque aux ADF.

Number of Central African refugees soars as violence intensifies | 15 January 2021 | UNHCR

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Violations of human rights should be stopped in CAR to prevent conflict | 15 January 2021 | DevDiscourse

A UN human rights expert said today impunity will continue to fuel violence and conflict in the Central African Republic unless perpetrators, co-perpetrators and accomplices of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are arrested, prosecuted and tried.

Ituri : Panique à Kotoni suite à la présence des miliciens ALC | 14 January 2021 | MediaCongo.net

Les éléments du groupe rebelle « Armée de Libération du Congo », ALC, sous la conduite de leur chef « Petit Loup de la Montagne » ont investi depuis le 13 janvier le village de Kotoni, à une dizaine de kilomètres de Bunia, chef-lieu de la province, sur l’axe Bunia-Kasenyi en territoire de Djugu.

Bunia : trois armes et autres effets militaires récupérés lors d’un bouclage | 14 January 2021 | Radio Okapi

Trois armes et plusieurs munitions ainsi que des effets militaires ont été récupérés et treize suspects arrêtés lors d’un bouclage au quartier Hoho et des patrouilles nocturnes effectués mercredi 13 janvier à Bunia.

Ugandans vote in charged election under internet blackout | 14 January 2021 | Mail & Guardian

Ugandans began voting in a tense election Thursday under heavy security and an internet blackout as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni pursues a sixth term against a former pop star half his age.

Over 80 killed in attack in Ethiopian border region with Sudan – state rights commission | 13 January 2021 | Reuters

Dozens Die in Ethnic Massacre in Troubled Ethiopian Region | 13 January 2021 | NYT

More than 80 civilians were killed in an attack on Tuesday in the Benishangul-Gumuz region on Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday.

From Separatism to Salafism: Militancy on the Swahili Coast | 13 January 2021 | Council on Foreign Relations

The revelation that a Kenyan member of al-Shabab was charged with planning a 9/11-style attack on the United States has served to underline the Somali terror group’s enduring presence in East Africa and the region’s continuing relevance to U.S. national security. Shabab has terrorized the northern reaches of the Swahili Coast, which runs from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, for well over a decade. More recently, a brutal jihadi insurgency has emerged on the Swahili Coast’s southern tip. Ansar al-Sunna (ASWJ), known among other names as Swahili Sunna, ramped up its violent activities in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province in 2017 before spreading more recently into Tanzania. The risk of a further rise in jihadism along the Swahili Coast is serious—and growing.

Atrocity Alert No. 235: Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Cameroon | 13 January 2021 | GCR2P | ReliefWeb

Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.

Bullets and panic: rebels attack Central African Republic capital | 13 January 2021 | Reuters

Central Africa Republic: Rebels launch attack on capital | 13 January 2021 | DW

Rebels in Central African Republic attacked the capital early on Wednesday, but were repelled by President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s security forces and United Nations peacekeepers, authorities said, in an escalation of an election conflict.

Uganda Military Leaves Barracks, Massively Deploys On Streets | 13 January 2021 | Taarifa

Impeccable reports reaching Taarifa Political Desk confirm that Several Kampala city dwellers have opted to travel upcountry in fear of the unfolding situation as the military war machines begun rolling into the streets ahead of Thursdays Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

Uganda orders all social media to be blocked | 12 January 2021 | Reuters

Facebook shuts down Ugandan accounts ahead of general elections | 12 January 2021 | Mail & Guardian

Uganda ordered internet service providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps on Tuesday until further notice, a letter from the country’s communications regulator seen by Reuters said.

RCA : un village bombardé par les mercenaires russes | 12 January 2021 | Corbeau News

Après la tuerie d’une septentenaire dans le village Kpabé près de Sibut le jour de Noël dernier et les tirs sur un camion de transport public de marchandises à l’entrée de la ville de Grimari le 28 décembre par les mercenaires russes, c’est au tour des habitants du village Danga sur l’axe M’baïki-Boda de connaitre le vrai visage des mercenaires russes de la société Wagner venus au secours du président Touadera.

Centrafrique : des groupes armés condamnent les hostilités d’une nouvelle alliance rebelle | 12 January 2021 | Corbeau News

Les groupes armés qui se positionnent contre la nouvelle alliance rebelle sont, entre autres, l’Union des forces républicaines (UFR), la Révolution-Justice (RJ) et le Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain (FDPC).

L’affairisme des officiers militaires et policiers à la base de l’insécurité dans l’Est de la RDC | 12 January 2021 | Radio Okapi

L’insécurité dans l’Est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) est due à l’affairisme de certains officiers supérieurs militaires et policiers, a affirmé lundi 11 janvier, le député Gratien Iracan. Lors d’une interview accordée à Radio Okapi, il indique ces officiers supérieurs collaborent avec les groupes armés pour avoir des avantages financiers.

Six Virunga Park rangers killed in eastern Congo ambush | 11 January 2021 | Reuters

Why rangers in the Congo’s Virunga national park are under attack | 14 January 2021 | The Conversation

Armed men on Sunday killed at least six rangers and wounded several others in an ambush in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas, the park said.

Uganda’s police chief: beating of reporters for their own good | 11 January 2021 | DefenceWeb

Uganda has space in its prisons to cope with any spike in arrests during next week’s presidential election and the police beat reporters for their own good, senior security officials said on Friday.

Insécurité frontalière : les militaires camerounais pris au piège des rebelles centrafricains | 11 January 2021 | Actu Cameroun

L’incident a eu lieu dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi dernier à Yamba une localité frontalière de l’Adamaoua proche de la République Centrafricaine.

La France au Sahel : il est temps de partir ! | 11 January 2021 | Libération

Le pari de lutter à la fois contre la menace terroriste sans se substituer à des gouvernements souvent corrompus et autoritaires est une mission impossible. Pourquoi ne pas passer le relais aux Casques bleus ainsi qu’aux acteurs du développement ?

Militants Continue to Stage Deadly Attacks as Insecurity Expands into Previously ‘Safe’ Zones in West Africa, Sahel, Top Official Tells Security Council | 11 January 2021 | UN Security Council | ReliefWeb

Insecurity across West Africa and the Sahel has expanded into areas previously considered safe, with militants continuing to stage deadly attacks, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the region told the Security Council today, as delegates called for consolidating gains in democratic governance recently expressed by several countries in their successful conduct of elections.

French warplanes fly over Central African Republic amid rebel offensives | 10 January 2021 | Reuters

Rebels attacked two towns in the Central African Republic on Saturday as French warplanes flew over in an apparent attempt to deter an advance on the capital after a disputed election.

UN Officials Say Fair Elections Unlikely in Uganda | 10 January 2021 | VoA

U.N. officials warn prevailing political conditions in Uganda are stacked against the likelihood of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections later this week.

Des militaires rwandais en RDC : “Le silence du Gouvernement congolais inquiète” | 9 January 2021 | Politico.cd

Le rapport des experts des Nations-Unies du 23 décembre dernier signalant la présence des troupes rwandaises en RDC a attisé bien des réactions. Après le Gouvernement de Kigali qui a strictement nié ces affirmations, le Député national Juvenal Munobo, lui, s’inquiète au sujet du silence du Gouvernement congolais.

Rwanda dismisses UN experts allegations in DRC Midterm report | 9 January 2021 | The New Times

The Government of Rwanda on Friday, January 8, dismissed allegations from the UN Group of Experts (GoE) Midterm report which claimed that there were Rwandan troops on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Central African Republic: Post-election violence triggers mass displacement | 8 January 2021 | UN News

Amidst post-election violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), more than 200,000 people have fled for their own safety, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

DRC: Former warlord Lumbala arrested on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity | 8 January 2021 | The Africa Report

Former Congolese warlord and lawmaker Roger Lumbala has been placed in provisional detention on charges of “complicity in crimes against humanity”, among others.

Uganda’s Bobi Wine asks ICC to investigate rights abuses | 7 January 2021 | Reuters

Uganda’s main opposition leader asked the International Criminal Court on Thursday to investigate President Yoweri Museveni and senior officials for sanctioning human rights abuses in the run-up to next week’s presidential election.

Les rebelles prennent le contrôle de Bangassou en République Centrafricaine : L’évêque témoigne | 7 January 2021 | InfoChretienne

Le 3 janvier dernier, à la veille des résultats des élections présidentielles, des forces rebelles ont pris le contrôle de la ville de Bangassou en République Centrafricaine. Juan José Aguirre Muñoz, Evêque de Bangassou, témoigne de la situation auprès de l’Agence Fides.

Central African Republic: A disputed election and a strange rebel alliance | 7 January 2021 | BBC

After an election marred by violence, the president of the Central African Republic (CAR) has won five more years in power. But his victory is contested and the fate of the country balances on a knife edge.

Beni : les forces de sécurité et la MONUSCO appelées à une stratégie conjointe pour protéger les civils | 6 January 2021 | Radio Okapi

Le parti politique RCD / K- ML de Mbusa Nyamwisi appelle les forces de défense et de sécurité ainsi que la Mission de l’ONU en RDC (MONUSCO) à mettre en place une stratégie conjointe et concertée pour protéger les civils contre les attaques des ADF dans la région de Beni. Cet appel a été lancé mardi 5 janvier à travers un communiqué publié par cette formation politique sur la situation sécuritaire qui prévaut dans cette région.

Anti-gay rhetoric ramps up fear among LGBT+ Ugandans ahead of polls | 6 January 2021 | Reuters

Homophobic comments by Uganda’s president and other politicians are making some LGBT+ Ugandans too scared to vote in elections scheduled for Jan. 14, gay rights campaigners said on Tuesday.

Ugandan Human Rights Lawyer Fights Charges on Eve of Presidential Election | 6 January 2021 | Just Security

One of Uganda’s leading human rights lawyers, Nicholas Opiyo, is fighting charges stemming from his arrest in Kampala on Dec. 22, just weeks before the country’s Jan. 14 general election that will test President Yoweri Museveni’s more than three decades in power.

All Is Not Quiet on Ethiopia’s Western Front | 6 January 2021 | Foreign Policy

How Addis Ababa deals with ethnic violence in the region of Benishangul-Gumuz will determine the country’s future.

L’armée rwandaise mène des opérations illégales en République démocratique du Congo, selon des experts de l’ONU | 5 January 2021 | RTBF

L’armée rwandaise mène des opérations sur le territoire voisin de la République démocratique du Congo, en violation des mesures prises par le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies. L’accusation n’est pas neuve, mais cette fois le constat est posé par le groupe d’experts des Nations Unies chargé de suivre le respect de l’embargo sur les armes en RDC. L’armée rwandaise est soupçonnée depuis longtemps de mener la chasse aux miliciens hutus sur le sol congolais. Ces opérations auraient repris il y a quelques mois, en accord avec Kinshasa.

France launches investigation into ex-DRC rebel chief | 5 January 2021 | DW

France arrests former DRC rebel leader for role in ‘crimes against humanity’ | 4 January 2021 | The Guardian

Roger Lumbala has been accused of “complicity in crimes against humanity” for his actions during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002.

Rebels capture Central African diamond-mining city of Bangassou | 4 January 2021 | France24

Rebel fighters captured the southern diamond-mining city of Bangassou in the Central African Republic on Sunday, weeks after they were accused of an attempted coup and ahead of partial results from a tense presidential election.

Central African rebels attack and enter town before election results announced | 3 January 2021 | Reuters

UN condemns back-to-back attacks in Central African Republic | 3 January 2021 | UN News

Rebel fighters in Central African Republic attacked and partially occupied a diamond-mining town on Sunday, four security and humanitarian sources said, a day before authorities are due to declare results of the presidential election.

Inside the Rwandan special forces’ operation in CAR | 2 January 2021 | The New Times

A brawny officer was busy briefing a dozen armed-to-the-teeth troops carrying backpacks when The New Times on Saturday, January 2, visited a Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) special forces’ base in Bimbo, a locality in the Ombella-M’poko prefecture of the Central African Republic.

At least 17 villagers hacked to death in eastern Congo | 1 January 2021 | Reuters

At least 17 people were found hacked to death in a part of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo ravaged by attacks from Islamist militants, a local official said on Friday.

Ethiopian forces killed scores in June-July unrest, report says | 1 January 2021 | DW

Ethnic violence erupted in Ethiopia after the killing of singer Hachalu Hundessa. A local human rights watchdog says Ethiopian security officers used “highly questionable” force.

French policy in West Africa ‘silent on human rights’ | 1 January 2021 | Anadolu Agency

Amid the visit of French prime minister and armed forces minister to French soldiers in Chad, the country’s policy in the West African region received strong criticism in an analysis published in a French online news outlet.

ETHIOPIA-TIGRAY CONFLICT

Ethiopia re-enters the abyss of war | 29 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

The Ethiopian federal government’s “law enforcement operation” in Tigray aimed to capture the rebellious rulers in the northern regional state. Thus far, however, the core leadership is at large, and the campaign has further exposed the country’s political fragility, pushing it into the abyss of a likely long-term war.

The Three-Country Alliance Against Tigray Might Jeopardize Ethiopia’s Future | 26 January 2021 | Eurasia Review

The Tigray war has turned into an all-out conflict, pitting Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation front (TPLF) against Ethiopian federal troops, the Eritrean army, Amhara militia and – as revealed last week – Somali soldiers.

Witnesses: Eritrean soldiers loot, kill in Ethiopia’s Tigray | 25 January 2021 | AP

The Eritrean soldiers’ pockets clinked with stolen jewelry. Warily, Zenebu watched them try on dresses and other clothing looted from homes in a town in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region.

Ethiopia’s leader must answer for the high cost of hidden war in Tigray | 24 January 2021 | The Guardian

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s long-serving former foreign minister, was one of the foremost African diplomats of his generation. He was gunned down this month in Tigray by the armed forces of a lesser man – Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner. Some suggest it was the Eritrean military, Abiy’s allies, who killed Seyoum, although their presence in Tigray is officially denied. The circumstances of his death remain murky.

‘Choose – I kill you or rape you’: abuse accusations surge in Ethiopia’s war | 23 January 2021 | Reuters

The young coffee seller said she was split from family and friends by an Ethiopian soldier at the Tekeze river, taken down a path, and given a harrowing choice. “He said: ‘Choose, either I kill you or rape you’,” the 25-year-old told Reuters at the Hamdayet refugee camp in Sudan where she had fled from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The ‘peace’ that delivered total war against Tigray | 23 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

The Abiy-Isaias-Amhara pact was structured to result in either the complete conquest of Tigray or mutual destruction.

On ‘Rooftop of Africa,’ Ethiopia’s Troops Hunt Fugitive Former Rulers | 22 January 2021 | NYT

Politicians and military commanders who once led Ethiopia are being tracked down, caught and sometimes killed by their own country’s soldiers in the war in the Tigray region.

Ethiopie : préoccupée par les allégations de violence sexuelle au Tigré, l’ONU appelle à une politique de tolérance zéro | 21 January 2021 | UN News

La Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général sur la violence sexuelle dans les conflits, Pramila Patten, a exprimé jeudi sa grande inquiétude concernant les graves allégations de violence sexuelle dans la région du Tigré en Éthiopie, en particulier le nombre élevé de viols présumés dans la capitale régionale, Mekelle.

Ethiopia denies Somali soldiers fighting in Tigray conflict | 21 January 2021 | BusinessDay

Somalia says reports of its fighters going missing were fabricated for political reasons as it is holding presidential elections in February.

Non, la guerre du Tigré en Éthiopie n’est pas terminée | 19 January 2021 | France culture

Il y a deux mois le Premier ministre d’Éthiopie Abiy Ahmed annonçait la fin des combats contre les rebelles du Tigré. Mais tout indique que les exactions s’y poursuivent et s’étendent même à d’autres régions d’Ethiopie.

The Axum Civilian Massacre of November 2020: Innocent blood on Concerned Leaders and Commanders’ Hands | 18 January 2021 | AigaForum

Eyewitness accounts are emerging with respect to the various reports of the Axum city November 2020 massacre of around 750 innocent people. There was/is no clarity about the killing due to the total communication blockage in the region. Diaspora Tigrayans who were in Axum for celebrating Axum Tsion (St Marry’s) annual religious event (locally and nationally called Hidar-Tsion) and others who were in Axum at the relevant time, as well as some media have begun sharing their harrowing experiences of and information on the massacre.

Ethiopia Tigray crisis: EU concern over war crime reports | 16 January 2021 | BBC

The European Union says it is getting consistent reports of ethnic-targeted killings and possible war crimes in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray.

Trying treason: The case of MG Gebremedhin Fikadu et al. | 16 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

Seventeen Tigrayan military officers have been accused of treason. The jury is out as to whether their case will be tried in a military or civil court.

EU suspends Ethiopian budget support over Tigray crisis | 15 January 2021 | Reuters

The European Union has suspended budget support for Ethiopia worth 88 million euros ($107 million) until humanitarian agencies are granted access to people in need of aid in the northern Tigray region.

Ethiopia – Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 15 January 2021 | 15 January 2021 | OCHA | ReliefWeb

The security situation in Tigray Region remains dire with reports of sporadic fighting and population movement in search of safety, particularly in rural areas.

Major violations of international law at Tigray refugee camps: U.N. | 14 January 2021 | Reuters

There have been major violations of international law at two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

Ethiopia: Humanitarian crisis worsens in Tigray | 14 January 2021 | DW

The conflict between Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF is fueling hardship in the Tigray region as sporadic fighting continues.

Ethiopia says ex-foreign minister killed by military after refusing to surrender | 14 January 2021 | Reuters

Ethiopia said on Wednesday its military had killed three members of the Tigray region’s former ruling party, including former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin.

Sudan says Ethiopian military aircraft crossed border | 13 January 2021 | Reuters

An Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the Sudanese-Ethiopian border‮ ‬in a ‮”‬dangerous and unjustified escalation”, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

As a Tigrayan, my bond with Ethiopia feels beyond repair | 12 January 2021 | African Arguments

As a child growing up in the then Ethiopian city of Asmara in the 1980s, my parents used to ask me what I wanted to be when I was older. My answer was always that I either wanted to be a fighter pilot or army general. The reason was simple. My father was a soldier in the Ethiopian army under the Derg regime and I too wanted to kill the nation’s “enemies”.

Ethiopian women raped in Mekelle, says soldier | 10 January 2021 | Reuters

Soldiers and police in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle have expressed concerns about insecurity, with one saying women were raped this week, after the city fell to federal forces during a war late last year.

Les réfugiés érythréens au Tigré, cible de l’armée du régime autoritaire | 9 January 2021 | RFI

L’inquiétude grandit autour du sort des réfugiés politiques érythréens qui se trouvent au Tigré. Au début du conflit en novembre, ils étaient près de 100 000 à vivre en Éthiopie après avoir fui Asmara et son régime autoritaire. Depuis deux mois, de nombreux récits font part d’exactions commises dans les quatre camps de réfugiés au Tigré par les soldats érythréens, dont on a maintenant la preuve de leur présence.

Almost 2.3 million people need aid in Ethiopia’s Tigray – U.N. Report | 8 January 2021 | Reuters

Fighting is still going on in several parts of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and almost 2.3 million people, or nearly half of the population, need aid, a U.N. report said.

The Ethiopian Conflict and the Abrogation of the AU Mandate by the Commission Chairperson | 7 January 2021 | African Arguments

The Ethiopian civil war broke out following the November 4 attack by Tigray regional forces on the base of federal troops in Mekelle, capital of the northern Ethiopian regional state. Although the relationship between Addis Ababa and Mekelle has been strained since the transition that saw Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed come to power in 2018, few expected the build-up of tensions to erupt at the time and in the form that it did.

Ethiopie: défis et difficultés de la nouvelle administration provisoire du Tigré | 6 January 2021 | RFI

Couac au sein du gouvernement éthiopien au Tigré. Le maire de la capitale provinciale Mekele a confirmé que les troupes érythréennes étaient bel et bien engagées au Tigré pour se battre aux cotés de l’armée éthiopienne. Sauf que le maire de Mekele n’était pas censé révéler cette information démentie depuis des semaines par Asmara et Addis Abeba. Un accroc qui montre les problèmes que rencontrent le nouvelle administration provisoire, nommée par le Premier ministre il y a deux mois et qui peine encore à s’affirmer.

Ethiopia Accuses Sudan of Killing Civilians in Border Row | 6 January 2021 | Bloomberg

Ethiopia accused Sudanese troops of killing “many civilians” in recent fighting over contested land at the nations’ border.

Amhara region police chief reveals how region’s police force guided federal steel-clad mechanized forces to join “war” in Tigray | 6 January 2021 | Addis Standard

A speech delivered by Commissioner Abere Adamu, Chief Commissioner of the Amhara Regional State Police Commission, added a new dynamic into a cascade events leading up to the armed conflict in Tigray regional state, which broke out two months ago on November 04/2020.

Reuters cameraman detained in Ethiopia has seen no evidence against him, lawyer says | 30 December 2021 | Reuters

Ethiopian police release detained Reuters cameraman without charge | 5 January 2021 | Reuters

Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu has been held in solitary confinement for nearly a week without charge or being given any evidence of wrongdoing, his lawyer said.

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