Eastern Congo lawmakers sound alarm over 144 violent civilian deaths this month

Congolese civilians carry their belongings after fleeing from the renewed fighting between the assailants and army troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, at the Bunagana border crossing point in Western Uganda November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa/File Photo

KINSHASA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - At least 144 civilians have been killed in eastern Congo this month, lawmakers from the conflict-hit provinces said on Wednesday, refusing to back extending a state of siege they said was failing its mission to end decades of instability.

Despite the lawmakers' objections, parliament on Wednesday approved the motion to extend the state of siege as it as done every two weeks.

Under the siege initiative, the government in May replaced civilian administrations in North Kivu and Ituri provinces with police and military figures, but a parliamentary report last month criticised a lack of proper planning and funding. read more

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Civilians have been killed at the same rate as before the state of siege, according to data from Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violence in the region where more than 120 rebel groups operate.

"We have noted with regret that the government has not put forward any concrete action or strong signal likely to meet our concerns," 48 lawmakers from the east said in a joint declaration.

The lawmakers' declaration listed a number of recent massacres, including the killing of at least 22 civilians in the village of Chabusiku in Ituri province overnight on Sunday and the killing of at least 70 civilians in the village of Kisunga in North Kivu last week.

A further 52 decomposing bodies were found around villages in Ituri's Mambasa territory between Nov. 3 and Nov. 8, it said.

"It has been one of the deadliest two weeks since the state of siege began. We’ve not seen any positive impact on the pace and intensity of the massacres since it began in May," said Pierre Boisselet from Kivu Security Tracker.

The lawmakers called on the government to implement parliamentary recommendations, which include formulating a clearer strategy, strengthening border controls and boosting humanitarian support.

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Reporting by Hereward Holland in Kinshasa Additional reporting by Stanis Bujakera in Kinshasa Writing by Alessandra Prentice Editing by Matthew Lewis

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