The Landscape of Armed Groups in eastern Congo
(the cover photo of this article is a partial screenshot of the full map linked below)
Two decades of armed conflict have created a complex topography in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Current estimates by research institutions, multilateral and non-governmental organisations, and individual analysts indicate a myriad of over fifty armed groups of all sorts and shapes across the Kivu provinces, Maniema, Orientale, and Katanga. While some of them are not more than rag-tag groups of 10-20 ‘bandits’ or vigilante groups, others dispose over large-scale – either centralised or guerilla-styled – command structures, supply routes, and sophisticated tactics.
Almost all these groups have committed violent acts against either civilian population or opposed actors. Nonetheless, almost all these groups carry political ideology and motivation. Whether self-defence, grievance over land and/or resources, political participation, or others and whether justified or not, shall be anyone’s guess at this point.
While the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo are responsible for a fair share of atrocities and hostilities as well, they do not feature in this map given the fact they are a national army. The same applies to neighbouring armies allegedly involved in eastern Congo and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO with its intervention brigade.
The mapping provides basic information on the current topography of these armed groups operating in the DRC. It maps a larger part of these groups, including those most relevant for the politico-military landscape of eastern DRC in terms of strength and/or impact on ongoing politico-military developments in the country.
The background map used for this mapping exercise is a combination of RGC’s and UNDP’s provincial maps for North and South Kivu. All data used has been compiled by a wide range of complementary sources amended by scrutiny of several individual researchers whom I thank (while errors remain mine). All information provided represents the state of affairs in October 2013 unless otherwise marked. Note that the marked areas are approximate zones of influence and not clearly demarcated territories since it is impossible, even for a concrete point in time, to exactly indicate the locations.
See more here.