A new UN report details violent ethnic attacks in December, leading to hundreds of deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A UN special investigative mission sent to the Yumbi territory, in the country's west, confirmed at least 535 deaths, including women and children—but found that the death toll may be even higher, as it was reported that bodies were thrown in the Congo River. The report also said some 19,000 people were displaced, many across the border into the neighboring Republic of Congo. (Photo: UNHCR via Africa Times)
The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression called for the restoration of telecommunication services in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Internet continues to be shut down across the DRC in the wake of Dec. 30 general elections. Authorities ordered closure of net the day after the vote due to "fictitious results" circulating on social media. The results of the election have now been postponed and the shutdown extends past its original end date. Both the opposition and ruling coalition say they are on track to win the election. Many citizens were not able to vote due to an Ebola outbreak, and the delay led to protests in the east of the country. The opposition has alleged irregularities and fraud, and there have been reports of militias forcing voters to vote for the ruling coalition. The election commission dismissed any problems as minor. (Photo via SoftPower)
Concern is mounting for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s vast forests and rich wildlife as logging concessions and licenses to explore for oil in protected areas are prepared ahead of presidential elections later this year. A moratorium on industrial logging, in place since 2002, has been broken with three concessions reportedly handed out by the DRC environment ministry to Chinese-owned logging companies. A further 14 logging concessions are expected to be granted within months, according to a Greenpeace investigation. In addition, the government is preparing to reclassify large areas of Salonga and Virunga national parks—both UNESCO World Heritage sites—to allow oil exploitation. (Photo via Global Forest Watch)
The Democratic Republic of Congo recruited former M23 rebel fighters to protect President Joseph Kabila after protests broke out last December over his refusal to step down at the end of his constitutionally mandated two terms, Human Rights Watch reports. During the protests, at least 62 people were killed and hundreds arrested. The crisis de-escalated when Kabila agreed to hold elections by the end of 2017, and not run again. But the elections were never held, and have now been scheduled for the end of 2018—prompting renewed protests.
Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, a wanted militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, turned himself in to UN peacekeeping forces after six years on the run. He will be transferred to DRC authorities to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Sheka is a former commander of the Mai-Mai, a paramilitary network established by the DRC government to fight Rwanda's proxy forces in the 1990s.
Armed groups continue to commit war crimes with impunity in the Central African Republic, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, calling for international efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.
With armed factions proliferating across the Central African Republic, a cycle of revenge attacks is continuing despite recent peace accords by the principal actors.
Seven army officers have been arrested and charged with war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a video-recorded massacre that went viral on social media.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warns that arbitrary killings and other grave rights abuses continue to plague the Central African Republic amid multi-factional fighting.
Security forces in Uganda arrested the traditional king of Rwenzururu amid claims he was harboring militants seeking independence for the semi-autonomous region.
The International Criminal Court declared unanimously that Congolese ex-military leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International reports that satellite images show five possible mass graves in Burundi, which may be connected to December's massacre of protesters.