Demobilised fighters in DRC camp starve to death

2014-10-01 21:07
 (Junior Kannah, AFP)

(Junior Kannah, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - More than 100 demobilised militia fighters and their family members have died from starvation and disease in a remote military camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.

The government kept the former fighters in the north-western Kotakoli camp much longer than the intended three months, HRW said, and failed to provide enough food and health care.

The demobilised fighters belonged to armed groups that remained active in eastern DRC after the end of a civil war more than a decade ago.

More than 900 surrendered fighters and several hundred family members were sent to the camp in September 2013 to wait for integration into the military or into civilian life.

Supplies ran out by the end of the year and the government only sent minimal food and medicine.

People "looked like the photos of famine in Somalia and Ethiopia," a 23-year-old former combatant told HRW, adding that up to five bodies could be buried in one day.

The demobilized fighters were kept in Kotakoli because of delays and donor hesitation to finance the demobilization programme, Defence Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo told HRW.

"We did not voluntarily choose for these people to go hungry or to see them die, but we had difficulties getting them the basic provisions," Ntambo was quoted as saying. The government has said it is investigating the situation in the camp.

Many of the demobilised fighters belonged to the M23 group, which was defeated by the army and a United Nations special intervention brigade in November 2013.

Short for the Movement of March 23, the group was formed in early 2012 when nearly 300 Congolese soldiers turned against the government, citing poor conditions in the army and accusing it of reneging on a 2009 peace deal with the National Congress for the Defence of the People, a militia active in the east of the country.

Read more on:    hrw  |  drc  |  central africa  |  human rights

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.