By Madeline Billet
The Democratic Republic of Congo has fallen victim to multiple violent attacks on internally displaced persons, the latest being in the town of Fataki in Djugu region of the eastern Ituri province. Throughout the past few years, Eastern DRC has been an epicenter of violent rebellious crime, largely due to different rebel groups seeking control over the mineral-rich area in order to gain profit and political dominance.
Because the area has been previously stricken with violence, those killed in the massacre are thought to be both refugees of similar violence in the past and gold mine employees. The Cooperative for Development of the Congo, or CODECO, is said to be of blame for the latest attacks, killing at least 52 innocent civilians, according to AP News. The group of armed rebels attacked a gold mine in Fataki, in an attempt to establish power over the profit-rich local natural resource sector.
As a result, an additional 100 civilians are missing and feared dead at the hands of the violent armed militia group. 38 people, including women and children, were killed at the gold mine itself, while the others died as a result of CODECO reportedly setting fire to the mine’s local village of Malika. There are additional reports of the group raping at least 6 women in the attack.
The Ituri Province is one of the country’s newest regions that was created in the 2015 repartitioning. Gold mines and petroleum reserves dominate the local economy, while also prompting violence in the tropical area.
CODECO, while once considered a nonviolent agricultural cooperative, is now one of the many militant groups said to be responsible for the repeated attacks on displaced DRC civilians. Prior to the current massacre in Fataki, the group is responsible for killing 18 innocent people in a church last month, and an additional 60 murdered at a refugee camp in Feburary, according to Aljazeera.
While the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has sent security forces to the region, the murders continue, and innocent civilians are at constant risk of attack from terrorist organizations. The massacre in Fataki was particularly prompted by the weekend absence of security personnel, according to The East African, a publication specilzed in this region.
Injured civilians from the attack were transferred to the larger city of Bunia to seek medical treatment, but they remain displaced as CODECO attacked the village’s refugee community. Today, even uninjured residents of the village are now seeking refuge, for the area is deemed massively unsafe at the hands of the terrorist group. This massacre is one of many that result in the growing displacement figures in the region, but also adding to an extreme vulnerability that these communities are facing.