Over 200 people were killed and an estimated 40,000 were displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January this year in attacks by armed groups affiliated to ISIS (ISIL), the United Nations said.
The UN refugee agency reported on Friday an “alarming increase” in attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern DRC since 1995.
Since the start of the year, attacks blamed on the ADF “have killed nearly 200 people, injured dozens of others, and displaced an estimated 40,000 people in DRC’s Beni Territory in North Kivu province as well as nearby villages in Ituri province,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said.
“In less than three months, the ADF has allegedly raided 25 villages, set fire to dozens of houses and kidnapped over 70 people,” he told reporters in Geneva.
The ADF has a reputation of being the bloodiest of the 122 militias that plague the eastern DRC. It killed an estimated 465 people last year.
According to the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), an NGO that monitors violence in the DRC’s troubled east, the group has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.
The massacres have become more frequent since the army launched an offensive in October 2019, forcing the ADF to break up into smaller, highly mobile units, say experts.
Baloch said the latest surge in attacks appeared to be due to reprisals by armed groups, their search for food and medicine, and accusations against communities of sharing information on ADF positions.
The UN agency expressed concern for those displaced, whom it said were at increased risk due to food and medicine, particularly in the context of the current coronavirus and Ebola outbreaks in the region.