At least 32 civilians have been killed by rebel groups in eastern Congo’s Ituri province, according to a spokesman for the United Nations. Twenty people were killed by the militia group CODECO, and a dozen were killed by the Allied Democratic Forces, which is affiliated with the ISIS terrorist group. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo has been hindered by restricted movement in the area, making it difficult to get more information.
The violence in eastern Congo is caused by over 120 armed groups fighting for control of land and mines, as well as to protect their communities. The M23 rebel group, which resurfaced in late 2021, has been seizing territory and killing civilians in North Kivu province. The M23 is named after a 2009 peace agreement that called for the rebels to be integrated into the Congo army. The M23 allege that the government has not implemented the accord, and is believed to have backing from Rwanda.
A peace agreement made in Angola last year was supposed to see the M23 withdraw from the areas they had captured, but local residents say this is not being implemented. The rebels’ advance has displaced over 65,000 people and increases the risk of isolating Goma and cutting off humanitarian access. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo has also been attacked, with one of its helicopters coming under fire in North Kivu province. The deliberate targeting of peacekeepers could constitute war crimes, according to the United Nations Security Council.