As reported by BBC News on 13 June 2022, more than 30,000 civilians fled their homes in eastern DRC when heavy fighting erupted between government troops and M23 rebels in Rutshuru, close to the border with Uganda: “About 5,000 fled to Uganda, while 25,000 others are camping in schools and churches in Rwanguba, Kabindi and Kinoni areas of Rutshuru. The army and the rebels accuse each other of instigating the fighting”.
World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele comments: “Over the years, DRC has suffered a multitude of crises including armed conflicts, political tensions, population displacements, epidemics, under-nutrition and food insecurity. The eastern part of the country has particularly been plagued by violence attributed to armed groups such as the Alliance for Democratic Forces (ADF), CODECO and M23. The Islamist group ADF has been responsible for targeting Christians and churches in North Kivu.”
Yonas Dembele continues: “The M23 rebel group is a largely Tutsi militia which resurfaced in November 2021 after waiting to be demobilized following its defeat in 2013 (Reuters, 8 November 2021). It has now started attacking government troops amid claims that President Felix Tshisekedi’s administration is not committed to existing peace agreements, which included amnesties for the group’s rank-and-file. M23 rebels have been responsible for countless atrocities in the past and their recent resurgence in eastern DRC constitutes a serious threat to peace and security. While the M23 does not necessarily target Christians, their activities are contributing to the high level of insecurity in the area, thus causing religious freedom to be restricted.”