A British Member of Parliament has written to her government to take action on the escalating violence against Banyamulenge, a cattle-keeping community in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, Member of Parliament for Salford and Eccles told Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab about the need to provide “urgent protection and humanitarian assistance needed” in the South Kivu province.
“The recent attacks have led to an increase in violence in the last few years, and have caused the deaths of more than 200 Banyamulenge, and the looting of over 100,000 cattle,” said Rebecca in a letter dated July 17, 2020.
“I am informed that these systematic attacks against the Banyamulenge community are being carried out by a coalition of Mai-Mai militia from neighbouring ethnic communities, in collaboration and concertation with armed militia from neighbouring countries, most prominently RED-TABARA, FNL and FOREBU from Burundi,” she emphasised.
“I am sure you would agree that these recent events, and increase in violence towards the Banyamulenge community are extremely concerning, and the urgent action of international protection and humanitarian assistance is of the upmost priority.”
The United Nations and regional powers have been blamed for turning a blind eye to the violence in South Kivu.
The Banyamulenge accuse Rwanda of training Red Tabara rebels to attack their homelands as punishment for refusing to collaborate with Kigali in a secret war against Rwandan rebels in Kivu, eastern Congo.
Rwandan Special Forces are said to have worked closely with DRC troops to ambush and kill dozens of Rwandan rebels as they moved from South Kivu to North Kivu.
Kigali denies the claims.
President Paul Kagame recently dismissed reports that Rwanda deployed troops in DRC for any military operation.
The deepening South Kivu crisis threatens to plunge the region into a deeper conflict.
Burundi is suspected of supporting Banyamulenge to counter Rwanda’s influence in the area.
MP Rebecca said in the “uncertain and worrying times we are currently living through, nations across the globe are working to protect lives, and almost 45,000 lives have been lost here in the UK at the time of writing,” adding, “However, we must not look away from the problems and potential dangers faced by communities across the world, where COVID-19 is not that which they fear, but their potential genocide.”
She asked Minister Raab to explain steps being taken to contain the crisis in South Kivu.
“I would be very grateful if you could address the concerns outlined in my letter, as well as advising: What representation you have made, or will make to the United Nations to take action to protect the Banyamulenge community of the DRC? Advise what steps the UK and the UN can do to protect the Banyamulenge community of the DRC?” said MP Rebecca.
The Banyamulenge recently formed a self-defence force known as Twirwaneho to fight the rebels in the area.