During a field visit to the Masisi territory in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in April, Geneva Call noted that recent fighting between several armed groups operating in the region had had dramatic consequences on the civilian populations.
According to credible sources, 2,200 houses and 4 schools were burnt, more than 6,600 people displaced and a dozen acts of sexual violence against civilians were reported. Economic and territorial interests as well as ethnic tensions seems to be at the root of this fighting.
Following this news, Geneva Call contacted several specialized agencies including Save the Children, the United Nations Humanitarian Office (OCHA) and Solidarités International to draw their attention to this situation and the extent of the humanitarian needs so that assistance and protection could be brought to these civilian populations.
Since 2015, Geneva Call has maintained a sustained dialogue with six armed groups operating in this area, on the conduct of hostilities in general and on the protection of children, the prohibition of sexual violence and the prevention of population displacement in particular.
During this visit, Geneva Call met leaders of three of the armed groups involved in the recent combat. The organization urged them to implement action plans to limit the consequences of future fighiting on the civilian populations. Geneva Call also encouraged them to conduct internal investigations to clarify the allegations of violations collected by Geneva Call and to sanction the fighters at fault.
16 fighters and officers of one of these groups were also trained on the 15 main rules of humanitarian law while a second group accepted that Geneva Call review the code of conduct of its fighters and make it compliant with humanitarian norms.
“The populations who were affected by these armed violence were already living in very modest conditions, the fighting made their situations even more desperate” report Geneva Call’s team. “We would like to remind all armed groups involved in this conflict their obligations to respect humanitarian law and the civilian population.”