East DRC Faces An Uprise In Violence Caused By The ADF

As of February 24th, two attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo left 13 people dead. The attacks were carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a radical Islamic terrorist group based in the Beni region of the DRC.

The first attack consisted of 11 civilian casualties late Tuesday night in the village of Kisima. In the second attack early Wednesday morning, a civilian and soldier were killed in Icha, a city in North Kivu. An ADF fighter was also killed. The numerous causalities were confirmed by the Kivu Security Tracker (KST). The total causalities caused by the ADF are now at 1,316 dead and 132 injured.

The ADF is composed of over 122 armed and active groups that span across the four eastern provinces of the DRC: North Kivu, South Kivu, Huri, and Tanganiya. The ADF is formed by a radical Islamic group based in Uganda and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), an agricultural and religious group of Lendu people from Congo. Created by former Catholic Jamil Mukulu, the ADF sees themselves as religious crusaders who want to overthrow Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s government and replace it with an Islamic federal state.

The ADF uses numerous tactics to install fear, recruit, and make themselves seen across the DRC. According to UNJHRO investigations, the ADF has attacked over seven medical facilities, schools, homes, pharmacies, and entire villages using heavy weaponry. Civilians caught in the crossfire are either killed, injured, or abducted where they were forced to carry the looted goods. Children are abducted as a recruitment tactic recruited to join the ADF. They are trained to use weapons and engage in ADF attacks, work in fields, and perform common household tasks.

As a result, the ADF is creating a violent movement. With the ongoing violence in the Beni region, over 100,000 civilians have fled their homes in the last two months fearing for their safety. According to the UN, over 5.1 million internally displaced persons (IDP), half of them being children, have fled their homes making it the largest displacement crisis in Africa.

There is also internal movement caused by the ADF. Over 2,000 people can be found in the hidden camps in Rwenzori Mountains located between the DRC-Uganda border controlled by the ADF. These camps function as proto-state with internal security, schools, a prison, a health clinic, and an orphanage. In some of the hidden camps, people are forced into underground cells before their release. They can be kept up to ten days before being put to work in labour fields.

With the vicious cycles of brutality, the UN has increased its presence for its peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) in the DRC to help protect the safety of the civilians. While this is not enough, the new president of the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, and the new Angolan president, João Lourenço, have hosted a quadripartite meeting with Rwandan and Ugandan leaders Kagame and Museveni where they signed an agreement committing to end their disputes. It remains unclear if the agreement will prove feasible as tensions remain between countries.

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