Friday, April 18, 2008

POLITICS-DRC: Cautious Calm Settles Over War-scarred Ituri Region

POLITICS-DRC: Cautious Calm Settles Over War-scarred Ituri Region

By Michael Deibert

Inter Press Service

BOGORO, April 17, 2008 (IPS) - Wading through the chest-high grass outside of this hamlet in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Mathieu Nyakufa gestures to the bones -- still bleaching in the sun -- of those who have been lost to the country's wars.

"I was living just down here in the valley," the 52-year-old farmer says of one terrible morning in February 2003. "They were killing people with guns, with machetes, with spears and arrows. I escaped because I saw people running in my direction. Three of my children were killed in my own house."

An estimated 200 civilians were killed in Bogoro, located in the heart of the Ituri region, when combatants of the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d'Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Forces of Ituri, or FRPI), a militia dominated by the Ngiti and Lendu ethnic groups, attacked this scattered collection of thatched-roof huts and mud dwellings. At the time, Bogoro was a stronghold of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC), an armed group loyal to the Gegere and Hema tribes.

"The UPC told me, 'Papa, run away, don't wait, because the Lendu are killing your people'," says Nyakufa.

The Bogoro massacre was one of many such slaughters that occurred in Ituri, which contains some of the world's most valuable deposits of gold and reserves of timber. A brutal extension of the civil war which engulfed this vast African nation from 1998 until 2003, the conflict in Ituri saw neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda arm militias in an ever-shifting web of alliances, as much for their own designs on Congo's natural resources as for any political solidarity with the Congolese.

Read the full article here.

No comments: