Since October 2014, the region around the town of Beni in north eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has been the site of some of the worst massacres in the country’s recent history. Over five hundred people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled their homes. The UN mission and the Congolese government have publicly stated that the massacres are the work of Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
This report by the Congo Research Group (CRG) questions this narrative. Rather than a foreign Islamist group driven by revenge, CRG research points to a group that has forged strong ties with local interest groups and militias over the course of twenty years of insurrection around Beni. Moreover, our preliminary findings indicate that responsibility does not lie with the ADF alone. In addition to commanders directly tied to the ADF, members of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the national army; former members of the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie—Kisangani/Mouvement de libération (RCD–K/ML), as well as members of communal militias have also been involved in attacks on the civilian population.
We cannot comment on the chain of command or motivation driving these groups, but it is clear that the Congolese government and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have not put sufficient effort into addressing this crisis and have often incorrectly identified the enemy. Despite losing hundreds of soldiers in operations conducted against the ADF prior to July 2014, the FARDC have frequently failed to react in time to protect the population during and after events—and MONUSCO has demonstrated a similar lack of initiative. Our researchers have documented cases in which FARDC officers discouraged their units from intervening during massacres and there is extensive evidence indicating that members of the FARDC have actively participated in massacres.