Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo opposition leader's residence attacked

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

The Democratic Republic of Congo opposition, Ensemble Pour La Republique, has condemned an attack on the residence of its leader.

Moise Katumbi’s residence was on Wednesday night attacked with live ammunition by unknown people.

But the Ensemble Pour La Republique on Thursday night gave more details as to what transpired.

"During this unfortunate and barbaric attack, President Katumbi was in his village in Kashobwe with his family hence there were no fatalities as a result of the attack," the statement read.

They said the attackers were targeting Mr Katumbi.

"Ensemble Pour La Republique condemns this attack in the strongest terms possible and decries the continuing insecurity. Clearly, this attack was aimed at its president," the statement added.

The statement added it was the "duty of government to protect everyone living in the country irrespective of their political affiliation."

A local journalist tweeted photos of the residence:

View more on twitter

Mr Katumbi is a former governor of the mineral-rich Katanga province who fell out with former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila.

He was barred from standing in general elections in 2018 but is widely expected to stand in 2023.

Facebook takes down DR Congo misinformation network

Peter Mwai

BBC Reality Check

Screenshot of a fake claim about Jeff Bezos which alleges that he said blue masks being distributed in Africa are contaminated
BBC
Some of the pages posted fabricated quotes and claims about masks

Facebook has removed dozens of pages, accounts and groups that the company says engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour" originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The firm says the network appears to have been targeting a domestic audience.

The people behind it used duplicate and fake accounts to create fictitious personalities, posted in Facebook groups and directed people to other websites.

The network managed Facebook pages that were posing as independent news and fact-checking entities.

“They also impersonated opposition and political candidates and reposted their exact content, likely to build an audience,” Facebook says.

Earlier this year, the DRC network was posting frequently about the coronavirus pandemic and used that to build an audience before switching to political themes.

Some of the pages in April posted unproven claims that blue masks were contaminated and urged Africans not to wear them.

We debunked the claims here: Blue facemasks are not contaminated

Facebook says their investigation has revealed links between the network of social media accounts and a political party in DRC.

In total the firm has taken down 66 Facebook accounts, 63 Pages, 5 Facebook Groups and 25 Instagram accounts. It estimates that more than a million people could have been following one or more of these pages.

Laughing and teaching through the pandemic

DJ Edu

This Is Africa

Eddie Kadi
MCM London

UK-based comedian Eddie Kadi who has Congolese roots has opened up about how he is coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

He has had a string of engagements cancelled including Afronation.

He told This Is Africa:

My friends and family were panicking because they’re not used to me being around.

I started hallucinating. I got to the stage where I’m like this is not going to stop me, I’m going to travel. So I started travelling to my kitchen.

My kitchen became Lagos, my living room became Nairobi, my bathroom was Ouagadougou. Sometimes I’ll do transit in the hallway and that’ll be Addis Ababa."

Seriously though, Eddie immediately grasped how important it was to keep people smiling in spite of the coronavirus.

So many people don’t even have information about this pandemic.

So I teamed up with a few people I admire, with the African Union as well, and the World Health Organization and we set up this thing called Get In For Africa."

The idea was to put together influencers from comedy, music, sport and the media to discuss the pandemic, encourage and express solidarity, as well as raise funds.

A spin off of this is Eddie Kadi’s Comedy Hour. He and comedians from other parts of Africa discuss the pandemic, but also issues like xenophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement.

I found myself using comedy not just as a form of art to make people laugh but also as a way of attracting people to have these important conversations."

You can find out what music Eddie Kadi is listening to on This Is Africa on the BBC World Service, or click here after its first broadcast on Saturday at 11:30 GMT.

Drunk soldier kills 12 in eastern DR Congo

BBC World Service

A map of Democratic Republic of Congo
BBC

A drunken soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo has opened fire on passers-by, killing at least 12 people and wounding several others.

One of the victims is reported to have been a two-year-old girl.

The shooting took place on Thursday in South Kivu province in the east of the country.

There have been angry protests against the Congolese army in the town of Sange, where many roads have been blocked.

Testimonies: Raped and ransomed in DR Congo

Illustration of a kidnap victim in DR Congo
Edizon Musavuli/Human Rights Watch

Women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have told Human Rights Watch (HRW) about their experiences of being kidnapped for ransom by criminal gangs.

Many of those detained over the last three years were seized from fields where they were working and forced to walk several hours to Virunga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site, where they were held and beaten.

Their families were then called to raise a ransom for their release.

"They showed us human skeletons and said they were people they killed after they disobeyed their orders," said kidnap survivor Yolande.

"There were times when they would switch off their phones to increase pressure on families because they were not happy with the ransom offer. Male hostages were then beaten harder.”

The women and girls were repeatedly raped every day of their captivity often next to male hostages, who remained bound with ropes around their hands and feet.

"[My abductors] would ring my family while they were raping me so my relatives could hear me scream; they wanted to make them feel how we were suffering to make sure they would pay up," said Sarah, who was 18 and three months pregnant when she was kidnapped.

The captives were generally held for about a week to 10 days out in the open with little sustenance.

Many of the sexual violence survivors have been left traumatised and injured, with little help after their release. Often their partners have abandoned them or they say they have been shunned and taunted.

Monique says her husband still blames her for their financial straits and refuses to give her money for basic household items or to pay her medical bills: "He replies that all our money was spent [on the ransom]."

In most of the 170 or so cases documented by HRW, ransom payments ranged between $200 (£153) and $600 per hostage.

"My relatives sold our fields and [our last] goat. They also sold a bag of beans that we had at home. They took loans from a shop and the parish.... We’re suffering so much," Elizabeth said.

Most survivors said that the police did not interview them once they were freed - so they feel there is no hope of justice.

Watch some of Irene's testimony:

View more on youtube

All the names of the interviewees have been changed for their safety.

'Dozens kidnapped for ransom' in eastern DR Congo

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A map of Democratic Republic of Congo
BBC

An international pressure group says dozens of people have been kidnapped for ransom by criminal gangs in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Human Rights Watch said more than half of those taken between 2017 and 2020 were women.

Most were raped, sometimes many times a day. People are taken from their fields into Virunga National Park.

Some families have sold their land in order to pay ransoms.

A Rwandan rebel group, RUD-Urunana, operates in the region but it is not clear whether it is responsible for the kidnappings.

Read more:

Coronavirus: 'Catastrophic' rise in poverty threatens Congo's gorillas

A baby gorilla that was found injured by a snare is 'a first warning' of worse to come
The habitat of more than half of the world's mountain gorillas is being threatened by a spike in poaching in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   

Staff at Virunga National Park are highlighting the case of Theodore, a baby gorilla who was found trapped in a snare.  Rangers had to sedate his mother and distract his silverback father while a vet worked quickly to save his life. 

The park's director Emmanuel De Merode says far more snares are being put out as local people struggle to survive a 'catastrophic' rise in poverty caused by the coronavirus lockdown.  But organised gangs are also active in the area, and have killed an 'unprecedented' number of park rangers this year.  

(Photo: Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

DR Congo lifts Covid-19 state of emergency

Congolese policemen wear masks on their patrol pick-up in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, March 19, 2020
Reuters
Police blocked inter-province travel during the state of emergency

Groups of people poured onto the streets of Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, Kinshasa, on Tuesday night after President Félix Tshisekedi announced the end of a four-month state of emergency.

In a televised address, President Tshisekedi announced a timetable for the gradual resumption of economic activities, including reopening of banks, shops, restaurants and pubs from Wednesday.

Public transport, social gatherings, meetings and celebrations have also been allowed.

Schools, universities and other educational establishments will reopen on 3 August, while places of worship, stadiums, airports and international borders will be reopened from 15 August.

The state of emergency was announced on 24 March after a surge in confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The country has seen a drop in newly reported cases over the last two weeks. It has so far reported 8,543 coronavirus cases and 196 deaths.

The virus has spread to 14 out of the 26 provinces since 10 March when the first cases were reported.

The president said safety measures like social distancing and wearing of face masks in public will continue.

Militia group raids DR Congo village

Gaius Kowene

BBC News, Kinshasa

View of Lake Kivu
Getty Images
The region has experienced armed conflict for decades

Reports have just come in from a remote region in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo‘s South Kivu province where a militia group raided the village of Kipupu last Thursday.

According to the spokesperson of the Congolese army that reached the scene after the raid, attackers killed villagers and burned down their houses, forcing many to seek refuge in neighbouring villages.

Although no official toll has been released yet, local MPs fear more than 200 people may have been killed.

But UN sources who are looking into the attack believe the death toll could be much smaller.

The region has experienced a series of armed conflicts for decades, with fighting between the cattle breeding banyamulenge community and other local groups who accuse them of being foreigners.

Armed militia claiming to defend both communities regularly clash, often harming unarmed civilians.

Map of DR Congo
BBC