This survey focused on capturing attitudes of the populations that have suffered the most from ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, including the Ituri district of Oriental province and the provinces of North and South Kivu. This section discusses the results of the survey in these three areas of eastern DRC. As some variance in attitudes among the residents of Ituri and North and South Kivu emerged from the survey, defining characteristics of the nature of the conflicts and recent initiatives to address local concerns in these areas are first introduced.
The Ituri district of Oriental province has been the site of historical tensions, primarily over land use, between the pastoralist Hema and agriculturalist Lendu ethnic groups. Ituri experienced intense fighting during the Second Congo War, beginning in 1999. The district was occupied by the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) but Uganda backed competing local factions resulting in repeated clashes between Hema and Lendu armed groups over the years. The Ituri district experienced an influx of small arms and the illegal exploitation of resources such as gold and timber. Despite the signing of the Sun City peace agreement in 2002 and the retreat of the UPDF, Uganda continued to back the rival warring factions and violence continued in 2003 and beyond. As massive violations of humanitarian law continued to occur in Ituri after the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the ICC on 1 July 2002 and given the Congolese government’s referral of the DRC to the ICC, war crimes committed in Ituri have been the focus of the ICC’s investigations, which have resulted in the issuance of four arrest warrants for Iturian warlords.
The ongoing violence in Ituri led the UN Security Council to deploy a peacekeeping force in 2003, first an interim force led by France of European Union troops and then more permanent troops under the UN’s peacekeeping force, MONUC. Several MONUC peacekeepers were killed in Ituri in 2003 and 2005. The presence of MONUC’s troops in Ituri played a significant role in providing security by reducing the outbreaks of violence, which allowed for the gradual return of displaced persons prior to the 2006 elections. The stabilizing presence of MONUC peacekeepers starting in 2003 allowed for international actors and the transitional Congolese government to launch various development initiatives focused in Ituri beginning around 2005. Significantly, the European Commission–sponsored project for the Restoration of the Judicial System in Eastern Congo (REJUSCO) began as a pilot initiative focused in Ituri prior to the 2006 elections. The international attention given to Ituri, in terms of peacekeeping troops, judicial sector reform, and the ICC’s investigations into war crimes over the years, are important factors to consider in interpreting the survey results below.
North and South Kivu share a history of intense and complex tensions over land, ethnicity, and citizenship exacerbated by competing claims from neighboring Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda that continue to fuel conflict to this day. The Kivus bore the brunt of the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, forced to absorb a massive influx of Rwandan refugees, including former Hutu genocidaires who settled in the Kivus as they reorganized and rearmed.
Outbreaks of fighting in North and South Kivu have been continuous from the Second Congo War, through the transition until today between competing factions, including the Rwandan Hutu rebel movement (FDLR), the rebel movement of Laurent Nkunda (CNDP), government forces (FARDC), and various traditional Mai Mai militias. The DRC and Rwandan governments signed the Nairobi Communiqué in November 2007 agreeing on a process to demobilize, disarm, and return Rwandan Hutus back to Rwanda. But little progress has been made in implementing this agreement. Constant low-level fighting occurs in South Kivu and the conflict there is characterized by the widespread incidence of rape and sexual violence as a tool of conflict between the Mai Mai militias, FARDC, and Rwandan and Burundian rebel movements operating in the region. North Kivu has experienced more intense outbreaks of fighting than South Kivu since the 2006 elections, particularly instigated by General Nkunda’s CNDP movement, resulting in massive displacement over the last two years. The January 2008 Goma agreement seeks to quell fighting, but the ceasefire has been ignored and continuous fighting and violations of humanitarian law have continued throughout 2008. Intense fighting occurred in North Kivu in 2007 during the time the survey was conducted.
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