Amnesty call for protection of Civilians as DRC-Uganda embark on military crackdown on ADF

Global Human Rights body, Amnesty International has called on the governments of DR Congo and Uganda to ensure the protection of civilians during the joint military operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

This follows a series of bombings in Uganda’s business capital Kampala and it’s neighboring suburbs in recent months. The attacks have been attributed to rebel group ADF who are believed to be camping in DR Congo.

Amnesty has called on the governments to conform to international humanitarian statutes. The agency has revealed that both the Congolese and the Ugandan armies have a track record of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in the area and they have rarely been held to account.

“The situation remains volatile in eastern DRC as both Congolese and Ugandan forces continue to fight armed groups. Past foreign military interventions in the DRC, including by Uganda, have resulted in the targeting or harming of civilians,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes.

“Military commanders in Uganda and DRC must take all required steps under international humanitarian law to protect and avoid harm to civilians during this operation. They must also avoid locating military facilities and soldiers near civilian homes, and where they have to do so, they must give adequate warning and evacuate people if necessary.” Jackson added

The Ugandan army announced on 30 November that it had, along with its “Congolese allies,” launched air and artillery strikes against ADF camps in the DRC. The information was later confirmed by the Congolese government. Residents of Nobili, a small town on the DRC-Uganda border in North-Kivu, have witnessed columns of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers with heavy weapons and armored vehicles crossing the border since Tuesday evening.

In recent years, the ADF has pledged allegiance to a group calling itself Islamic State (ISIS). ISIS has claimed responsibility for several attacks carried out in Uganda in October and November 2021 which the Ugandan authorities have attributed to the ADF. These include attacks on 16 November near the Central Police Station and Parliament in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, which killed four and injured 37 others according to a statement by the Uganda Police Force.

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