About 70 armed groups have agreed to a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) South Kivu province, a flashpoint in the country’s troubled east.
“All the armed groups of South Kivu agree to a cessation of hostilities and to instruct their respective members,” read a statement issued after a meeting in Murhesa near the provincial capital, Bukavu.
The three-day meeting, attended by DRC Deputy Defence Minister Sylvain Mutombo, was co-organized by U.S. conflict-resolution group Search for Common Ground.
A similar meeting was held in December 2019 at the same venue, when 32 local armed groups agreed to cease hostilities.
Since the start of 2020, 139 violent deaths have been recorded in the province at the hands of militias or the army, according to the monitoring group Kivu Security Tracker. About 20 civilians were massacred in the village of Kipupu in July 2020.
About 18 months after President Felix Tshisekedi took office on pledges of bringing peace to the volatile region, the goal remains elusive.
In eight months about 1,300 people were killed in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, according to a June 2020 United Nations estimate.
More than half a million people have been displaced. Violence in South Kivu province often is between Rwandan-speaking Tutsi Congolese, known as the Banyamulenge, and other local ethnic groups, the Babembe, Bafuliro and Banyindu.