JUST as the UN Security Council votes to trim the world’s most costly peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO – deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1999 – alarm is mounting about growing insecurity in the country’s South Central Kasai region.
The recent murder of two UN researchers and the decapitation of 40 police officers have leaders clamouring for a resolution to violence that has been simmering since the middle of 2016. “The search for peace must be everyone’s business because our lives depend on it,” the speaker of the region’s parliament said last week, noting hikes in food prices and the closure of schools and medical centres due to the unrest.
With some 200,000 people displaced by the violence, the Famine Early Warning System Network warned that the resurgence of violence since August between government forces and a militia called Kamwena Nsapu will disrupt farming activities, leading to below average harvests and poor availability of food in the area.
On Friday, there were reports that the militia had taken control of the Kasai town of Luebo, attacking symbols of central state, setting fire to public buildings, and releasing prisoners.
Congo’s Catholic bishops and the papal nuncio condemned the “horrendous” violence in Kasai, noting that civilians had been killed in house-to-house searches by security forces as well as during summary punishments meted out by the militia, and that young people, including children, were being recruited.