According to the Collins English Dictionary, a state of siege is a situation in which a government or other authority puts restrictions on the movement of people into or out of a country, town or building. Under the country’s constitution, the president can declare either a state of emergency or a state of siege if severe circumstances immediately threaten the independence or integrity of the national territory. To this effect, The Democratic Republic of Congo announced a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the east of the country following an unprecedented number of recurring cases of tension, insecurity and civilian massacres by armed groups on Friday, 30 April 2021 for a renewable period of 30 days.

A DEEP-ROOTED RESOLUTION?

Since November 2019, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed in the Beni territory located in North Kivu province alone, in attacks attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group that recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Entrusting the military with the administration of these provinces that have been taken over by insecurity is not ideal given the state of structural and functional shake in which the Congolese army In a region where more than 122 armed groups are active and where displaced persons and refugees number in the millions, it takes more than just a siege to repel attacks and restore peace. With the extension of the state of siege on Monday 3 May 2021, the duration and steps to be taken next under the state of siege have remained unclear.

DOUBLE STANDARDS?

In the North Kivu region, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) has been conducting large-scale military offensives since Thursday 31 October 2019, following on from Operation Sokola 1, which was launched in January 2014 in the Beni territory against the ADF rebels, and Sokola 2, which targets the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). However, the move to put military and police officers in jobs usually performed by civilians has faced criticism because the Congolese army has often been seen as part of the conflict as they have allegedly provided arms and other support to rebel movements it is an exceptional period which restricts citizens’ rights and liberty, such as free movement, expression, right to demonstrate which is a move that can have serious consequences on the daily life of the population.”

                                        Victims of violence paraded in DRC

NO PEACE IN SIGHT

In the village of Chani-Chani in North-Kivu province, at least 15 bodies were discovered by the DRC armed forces (FARDC) on the spot after an attack by the ADF. Also, in the village of Boga in neighbouring Ituri province, at least seven civilians were killed in an armed attack. The attack on Boga came after it was on Monday 31 May 2021 invaded by members of the ADF, killing more than 50 civilians.

One month after the state of siege, 157 people have been murdered, 32 people have been kidnapped and several arson attacks have been recorded. With the increased attacks in Ituri and North-Kivu provinces and the deplorable casualties recorded, there is no peace in sight.