DR Congo Signs ‘Peace’ Deal With Armed Group In East

 

The Congolese government has signed a deal with an armed group to restore peace and security in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after decades of violence, UN officials said.

The agreement was signed in the gold-rich province of Ituri, long wracked by communal violence that has left tens of thousands dead.

The deal, signed Friday between the DRC authorities and the FRPI (Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri), calls for a ceasefire and integration of the militias into the regular army.

“This agreement… is tasked with ending nearly two decades of violence,” the United Nations mission in DRC, MONUSCO, said in a statement.

It is “designed to restore peace, security and stability” in southern Ituri, following “several aborted attempts,” it added.

The FRPI, which today numbers 500 fighters, has been active in the south of Ituri for two decades.

The armed group is a holdover from the communal conflict that ravaged the province between 1999 and 2003, leaving tens of thousands dead until the intervention of a French-led European force called Artemis.

A local resident hailed the peace deal, particularly for families caught in the crosshairs of conflict.

“For we women, this agreement is synonymous with hope,” Gety resident Anualite Zawadi said, according to MONUSCO.

“For nearly 20 years, women were raped. We had trouble going to work in the fields. Children rarely went to school because of the lack of security.”

The conflict has seen several high-profile FRPI players punished over the years.

Former warlord Germain Katanga was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in prison by the International Criminal Court for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Another militia leader, Cobra Matata, was arrested and transferred to Kinshasa in January 2015, but his trial has never started.

Several thousand FRPI fighters were demobilised and integrated into the Congolese army from 2004 until 2006, but the group started reforming at the end of 2007.

Since the end of 2017, northern Ituri has seen a resurgence in violence between local militia groups that has left at least 700 people dead.

The UN says the violence could amount to a crime against humanity.

DR Congo Authorities Announce Rise In Ebola Death

DR CongoAuthorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have announced that the death toll has risen from 13 to 31, from an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Djera region of the DRC.

An expert on the epidemic and the current head of DR Congo’s National Research Institute of Biology, Professor Jacques Muyembe, who just came back from a fact finding mission in West Africa, as a representative of the Congolese Government, said that the virus in DRC can be contained much faster compared to the West Africa outbreak.

“What I saw in West Africa will go on for the next few months, at least for the next five months, especially in Liberia. But here at home, it’s an epidemic that would last between two to three months before it’s contained,” said Muyembe.

The outbreak in Congo’s Equateur province is thought to be separate from the epidemic in West Africa.

“The number of cases that we observed in Monrovia was much higher than anything we have had here in DRC, whenever we had an Ebola outbreak. The epidemic took them by surprise over there because they were not familiar with such a virus,” Muyembe said.

DR Congo’s infrastructure has been devastated by decades of corruption, conflict and misrule. The country, in 2013, came bottom of a United Nations development index.

However, despite these grim figures and the rise in the death toll, Muyembe believes with proper planning the virus can be contained.

“For the moment, everyone is panicking and they are trying to compare numbers with what’s happening in West Africa but these two epidemics are two different things because I was there and saw what was happening and it’s not going to happen here. We will be able to contain the epidemic much faster here. We will work in all transparency, so we shouldn’t really panic,” he said.