More than 4,000 members of the Banyamulenge tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled their villages of Rurambo in the Ruzizi plains and the village of Nyabigega in the middle of the Uvira plateau.
According to some reports, these Banyamulenge were attacked over the weekend by the Mai-Mai militia opposed to their stay in the country. The Banyamulenge said they felt betrayed because the attackers stormed their villages located just one kilometer from the FARDC military base and no intervention was provided.
“The village of Nyabigega in the middle of the Uvira plateau on Tuesday was systematically destroyed”, according to eyewitness accounts.
The Banyamulenge call on the government of President Félix Tshisekedi to intervene immediately and save them from these barbaric attacks by the Mai-Mai militias and other rebel groups lurking in the eastern part of the vast mineral-rich country.
The Banyamulenge have lived in DR Congo for centuries, but for a long time they were not recognized as citizens of this vast mineral-rich state. Former President Mobutu Seseseko signed a decree granting the Banyamulenge tribe irrevocable citizenship.
“The Banyamulenge are Congolese,” President Felix Tshisekedi said in January 2020 during an interaction session with the Congolese diaspora in London, UK.
President Tshisekedi during his inaugural address in January 2019 said he would deploy the army and eliminate all foreign armies and neutralize all local militias that pose a threat to national security.
The province of South Kivu is infested with many armed groups, in particular the Raïa Mutomboki in the territories of Shabunda and Mwenga, the Mayi-Mayi in the territories of Uvira and Fizi, the interethnic conflict in the highlands of Bijombo, Minembwe and Itombwe , and many other groups.
According to the Congolese army, this region is home to various armed groups, including the foreign rebel forces CNRD, FDLR (Rwandan rebels) and FNL (from Burundi). In most attacks, these foreign rebel groups ally with local militias to attack Banyamulenge families.
The National Liberation Forces (FNL), a Burundian rebel group, entered South Kivu and established rear bases to fight the Burundian armed forces. The FNL are currently in alliance with the Mai-Mai Yakutumba and the FDLR in South Kivu.
The FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda) is the largest illegal foreign armed group operating in DR Congo.