This story is part of our ‘piece of the puzzle’ mini-series that shares the important work that our partners the Beni Peace Forum are doing on the ground in Eastern DR Congo:
Negotiating the Release of Hostages
“Beni Territory, like many other parts of Eastern Congo, is plagued by local and foreign militia groups. Sometimes, local groups fight against foreign groups to demonstrate their patriotism, but the national army, FARDC (The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) finds itself fighting a multi-front battle against all these groups. From time to time, the FARDC launches an awareness campaign and calls on local armed groups to sign a truce. For the mai mai (a generic name for local militia groups in Eastern DRC) who take the opportunity to surrender, their warlords must seek out their former followers to present to the government.
A warlord of one such group was looking for one of his former members. Group members went to this fighter’s home and found there only his wife and three children under the age of ten. Not knowing where the husband was, the mai mai group decided to abduct the wife and children in his place.
Their neighbours alerted the local protection committee who in turned informed BPF in Beni. BPF immediately reached out to the leader of the mai mai group in question, and using international humanitarian law as a basis, attempted to convince this warlord that the fighter’s dependents should not be involved. In addition, BPF contacted the FARDC commander in charge of negotiating these truces. Between these two pressure points, eventually the parties found a solution that allowed the woman and her children to be released.”