Collective punishment in Congo

People already made homeless by the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are once more at risk, threatened by the closure of camps in North Kivu Province by politicians and the military who regard them as sanctuaries for rebel fighters.

The killing of two soldiers in March in Mpati, in the Masisi region, allegedly by shots fired from inside a camp, was the final straw for the local authorities. They accuse FDLR rebels (originally made up of Hutu forces accused of participating in the Rwandan genocide) of sheltering among the displaced.

According to North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku, the “camps are reservoirs for criminals”. The alleged ease of access for gunmen is frustrating the military campaign against the FDLR, who are accused of rape, killings, extortion and forced recruitment among civilians.

“Each time there are military operations against the FDLRs, the figures for people in the camps increases – it’s because rebels hide in the camps,” Paluku told IRIN.



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