The Landscape of Armed Groups in Eastern Congo: Missed Opportunities, Protracted Insecurity, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Conflict and insecurity continued to plague populations in the eastern Congo in 2020. Amidst a global pandemic draining humanitarian funding – only 34% of requested annual aid had reached the Congo in 2020 – conflict continues to simmer, with a record high of 5.5 million displaced across the country. Recent Kivu Security Tracker data also indicates a steep rise in killings, violent deaths and other forms of violence since the end of 2019, compared to previous years.

 Minembwe area, 2020. © Pierre Boisselet

Nonetheless, compared to previous years, a decrease in the number of belligerents is observed. Whereas in 2019, roughly 130 armed groups existed in the Kivus alone, the 2020 inventory counts around 120 groups across the entire eastern Congo, including North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika.  

This report dives into the key dynamics of armed mobilization and insecurity in the eastern Congo in order to better contextualize the 2020 edition of Kivu Security Tracker’s armed group mapping. It distills key trends by looking at several geographical hotspots and analyzing some of the broader political and social developments that shape the contours of violence and conflict.  

Download the full report: English | French

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST) is a joint project of the Congo Research Group, based at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, and Human Rights Watch. The goal of the Kivu Security Tracker is to map violence by state security forces and armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to better under- stand trends, causes of insecurity and serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. 

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Feb 23, 2021