More than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of the year by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three times more than in the same period in 2019, according to the United Nations.
A report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) on Wednesday said fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020.
That was more than three times the 416 such deaths recorded in the first half of last year.
The UNJHRO attributed the jump to the “deterioration” in the human rights situation in provinces where conflict is rife, particularly Ituri, South Kivu, Tanganyika and North Kivu.
Deterioration of the human rights situation in conflict-affected provinces, in particular Ituri, South Kivu, Tanganyika and North Kivu, according to the analysis by @unjhro of the main #humanrights trends in the #DRC in the first half of 2020 https://t.co/k1d5TpqwW6 pic.twitter.com/pBRLU7G6DP
— UN Human Rights DRC (@unjhro) August 5, 2020
Eastern DRC has been unstable for nearly 30 years, its population terrorised by dozens of militia groups that are chiefly the legacy of two major wars.
Violence in the gold mining region of Ituri has raged since December 2017. The flare-up has pitched the Hema ethnic group, who are predominantly herders, against the Lendu community, who are mostly sedentary farmers.
The UN has warned that some of the latest attacks could amount to crimes against humanity.
As in Ituri, civilians are caught up in escalating conflicts in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and the southeastern province of Tanganyika.
At the end of October 2019, the army launched operations against all armed groups in the eastern part of the country. Despite those offensives, however, the killings of civilians have not ceased.
The UNJHRO report also noted that the number of violations committed by state agents decreased slightly during the first half of the year.
State agents were responsible for 43 percent of documented human rights violations, including the extrajudicial executions of at least 225 people, including 18 children, throughout the DRC, according to the report.