Congo: Violence Vanquishes Virus

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May 4, 2020: Fears of covid19 has Angola increasing surveillance along its Congo border. In northern Angola (Zaire province), Angolan medical personnel detected two covid19 cases on April 30 in a Congolese community near the Congo border. The two infected people got covid19 while in Kinshasa (the Congo capital). The Angolan government now fears a covid19 outbreak may occur in the cities of Boma and Muanda.

May 2, 2020: In March it looked like the Ebola virus epidemic was over, but in April Congo had a handful of Ebola virus cases. That epidemic was the second-worst Ebola epidemic in history, with 2,262 dead. However, the numbers say the Ebola outbreak is waning. Not so the measles epidemic in eastern Congo. As of April 26 the measles had killed, 6,200 people in eastern Congo (North Kivu, South Kivu and part of Ituri province). 5,300 of those killed by measles are children. As of April 26, Congo had around 450 cases of covid19 and 28 deaths.

May 1, 2020: In Congo, foreign medical experts believe Congo’s prison are high-risk areas for covid19 outbreaks. Congolese prisons have more prisoners than space. UN peacekeepers estimate that the average Congolese prison is at 400 percent of capacity. Kinshasa's Ndolo prison has already had a small outbreak. The impact of covid19 on prison inmates depends on the health of the prisoners. In the West, the average healthy prisoner will survive a covid19 outbreak. Most won’t even notice it and few will come down with what appears to be a bad case of the annual influenza epidemic. For prisoners already ill for whatever reason, there is the possibility of death. Western prisons have a lot of older prisoners who are vulnerable. African prisons have few older inmates but a lot more who are ill from the poor conditions in the prison.

April 30, 2020: Congo now expects the covid19 pandemic will cause its economy to contract during 2020. Mining industry output will drop six percent because quarantines to halt the spread of the virus will shut down production.

April 28, 2020: Rwanda accused the Burundian government of waging war in Congo in the Rwanda-Congo border area. In eastern Congo (North Kivu) Rwandan troops are accused of crossing the border to attack the FDLR rebels, who are extremist Rwandan Hutus. Rwanda denied the charge and said no Rwandan troops are operating inside Congo. However, Burundian soldiers are violating Congolese territory. Rwanda accused the FDLR of being involved in the recent attacks in North Kivu’s Virunga National Park.

April 27, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) peacekeepers confirm that over the last three days at least 43 have been killed in a series of armed clashes. On April 26 ADF Islamist rebels killed six people outside the city of Beni. In neighboring northeastern Congo (Ituri province near the Uganda border) soldiers fought a militia that had killed two civilians. The army claimed it lost two soldiers in the firefight and killed 12 militiamen. On April 24 a militia killed 21 civilians

Burundi’s national election campaign officially begins today. However, the intimidation campaign began in late 2019. That’s when opposition leaders and human rights groups began publicly accusing the “youth wing” of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s political party of threatening and physically attacking opposition political party supporters. Nkurunziza’s security services had also detained reformers, other critics and reporters. That’s believable. Last year the UN accused Burundi security agents of torturing Nkurunziza’s opponents. Most of this violence is organized via the Imbonerakure, the nickname for the CNDD-FDD party’s youth wing. Nkurunziza won’t be on the ballot. The CNDD-FDD candidate is retired Burundian Army general Evariste Ndayishimiye. He is also his party’s general secretary. Burundi media believe the CNL party candidate Agathon Rwasa is the most formidable opposition. The CNL claims that government security personnel have arrested over 200 CNL party members. Others have had their property stolen and crops burned, likely by Imbonerakure thugs.

In the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), across the Congo River from the larger Congo Republic, there have been 200 cases of covid19 since mid-March. The virus has killed eight people. Not surprisingly, the government is assuring the country that the virus has disrupted oil production. The Congo Republic, produces about 190,000 barrels of crude per day. That is a major source of foreign exchange.

April 26, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) Burundian troops operating with Rwandan Hutu RDLR rebels were reported to be fighting RED-Tabara rebels fighters inside Congolese territory. Another militia called the Gumino rebel group may also be allied with Burundi. A firefight did occur in South Kivu province’s Uvira area, possibly at a locale called Masango. There are few details regarding the firefight, though its timing is obvious. Burundi has a presidential election in May and the official campaign begins April 27. The RED-Tabara rebels the current Burundi president (Pierre Nkurunziza). RED-Tabara stands for “Resistance for the Rule of Law in Burundi.” Several former Burundian Army officers joined the rebel group when it was formed in 2015. The organization formed after the failed 2015 coup and Nkurunziza’s purge of Burundian security forces. The Burundian government claims Alexis Sinduhije directs it. Spokesmen for RED-Tabara deny Sinduhije is involved. A fierce opponent of Nkurunziza, Sinduhije heads a Burundian opposition political party (Movement for Solidarity and Democracy.) In October 2019 a large firefight between the Burundian Army and a RED-Tabara force occurred near the Burundi-Congo border. The government claimed its forces killed 14 rebels, who were caught while crossing the border from their bases in Congo. A RED-Tabara spokesman said the battle marked the beginning of “resistance” to Nkurunziza with the goal of establishing the rule of law in Burundi. The RED-Tabara group is “unofficially” allied with the Popular Forces of Burundi (FPB) which is a larger rebel organization. The FPB is led by two former Burundian Army officers, Major General Jeremie Ntiranyibagira and LTC Edouard Nshimirimana. The FPB also formed in 2015. (Austin Bay)

In eastern Congo (South Kivu) peacekeepers have rescued over 2,000 people stranded by heavy floods that disrupted the lives of some 75,000 people.

April 24, 2020: In eastern Congo (South Kivu) a battle in Virunga National Park left twelve park rangers and five civilians dead. Security officials believe Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels launched the attack. Park rangers carry weapons but they are not soldiers and do not belong to a military organization. They work for the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, a state agency.

April 23, 2020: Congo’s parliament voted to extend the covid19 state of emergency for another 15 days.

In western Congo (Kongo-Central province) a series of violent clashes occurred between police and members of the BDM tribal-religious sect., leaving 14 sect members dead. Two police officers were injured in one incident, seven injured in another. Police have seized weapons, ammunition and poison-tipped arrows. The BDM was formerly called the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK). The movement seeks the independence of the Bas-Congo region (western Congo) from the rest of Congo. Its adherents have to renounce western and eastern religions. It also wants to revive the pre-colonial Kongo Kingdom which controlled the mouth of the Congo River, parts of Congo, Angola, the Congo Republic (Brazzaville) and Gabon. A former member of parliament, Ne Muanda Nsemi, leads the BDM. His followers call him a prophet. (Austin Bay)

April 21, 2020: In CAR (Central African Republic) the UN imposed individual economic and political sanctions on former rebel leader Abdoulaye Miskin, who heads the FDPC. He signed the February 2019 peace agreement and was given a position in the CAR government. However, he has violated the deal.

April 20, 2020: Congo is pursuing its controversial effort to control small-scale (artisanal) cobalt mining. The government has worked out a partnership deal with a Berlin-based company, RCS Global that monitors supply chains. Volvo Cars and Huayou Cobalt have helped fund the program.

April 17, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) foreign health experts confirmed five new Ebola infections occurred during the last seven days. The infected individuals have been quarantined.

April 15, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) CODECO rebels killed 22 Hema tribesmen. CODECO is an extremist Lendu tribal organization. ADF terrorists killed two Congolese soldiers and one civilian in an attack near Beni city. The army claimed its troops killed five ADF terrorists in that incident.

April 13, 2020: Burundi reopened has its borders for goods moving between Rwanda and Congo. In March Burundi blocked the border to cargo trucks transiting Rwanda. The ostensible reason was the covid19 virus. However, Burundi’s border with Tanzania remained open. Rwanda then informed Uganda and Kenya that it would not let trucks going to Burundi to enter Rwanda because they would be stranded on the Rwanda-Burundi border.

April 12, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu) there was a second death from Ebola in the city of Beni. The first death was three days ago in Beni.

April 11, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province) soldiers fought the CODECO militia in a series of firefights. Two soldiers and 33 militiamen were killed and several soldiers wounded. The army seized five AK-47s and two PKM machine guns.

April 9, 2020: Ugandan farmers expect another plague of desert locusts. Six days ago two new swarms entered northern Uganda’s Amudat from Kenya.

April 8, 2020: Congolese police arrested Vital Kamerhe, President Felix Tshisekedi’s chief of staff. He is suspected of misappropriating (stealing) government funds. Tshisekedi has promised to fight corruption in Congo.

April 7, 2020: Congo’s capital, Kinshasa has been shut down for two weeks. The government is trying to stop a covid19 virus outbreak in the city of 12 million before it starts.

April 6, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province) gunmen killed three Chinese citizens, which was quickly reported to the Chinese embassy by other Chinese in Ituri. There are many Chinese in eastern Congo, working in mining or mining support activities.

April 5, 2020: A Rwandan forensics team has found a mass grave that may contain as many as 30,000 bodies. The site is near an earth dam in a valley near the capital, Kigali.

April 3, 2020: In CAR (Central African Republic) foreign medical aid workers warn that should covid19 break out in there are a total of three ventilators in the entire country. Covid19 is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia because the infected have trouble breathing. Death can be delayed by using a ventilator. A few percent of people infected with covid19 become ill enough to require a ventilator and about half of them die anyway. Most Africans have a genetic characteristic that makes their lungs less vulnerable to covid19 damage.

 

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