Kinshasa — THE Democratic Republic of Congo and the global community have been urged to secure the safety of millions at risk of mass atrocity crimes in the dangerous eastern parts of the country. Armed groups plus tensions between authorities and a local militia following the killing of local chief, Kamuina Nsapu, have resulted in over 400 people killed in Kasaï, Kasaï Central and Kasaï Oriental provinces since last August. Of the 2,2 million internally displaced persons in the DRC, more than 1 million are in the Kasaï region. Since the beginning of the year, the military has reportedly killed over 100 people, including 39 women, during clashes with the group. More than 20 mass graves have been found in the region, suggesting the death toll could be higher than reported. Tensions have worsened in recent weeks after Nsapu's militia ambushed and killed 40 police officers and the lifeless bodies of two members of the United Nations' panel of experts for the DRC were found in Kasaï Central province weeks after the pair went missing. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCRP), a research institute, pointed out other armed groups continued utilizing ongoing instability and the absence of state authority in eastern DRC to attack security forces and perpetrate crimes against civilians. Such groups from neighbouring countries have been operating in the vast Central African country for more than 20 years and continue sporadically attacking vulnerable populations. "The DRC government and UN mission must ensure protecting civilians remains their priority as they address the ongoing threats posed by various armed groups," the research institute stated. GCRP advised political rivals to an agreement reached in December to settle the deadlock emanating from President Joseph Kabila's failure to cede power at the expiry of his term. - CAJ News
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