At least 70 armed groups operate in eastern DRC. Groups usually number less than 200 soldiers and recruit largely along ethnic lines. They range from local militias set up initially as self-defence groups (which include the Mayi-Mayi) to secessionist groups; and forces first set up by fighters from Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU) is a militant group founded in the 1990s in Uganda. Its main interest in DRC is gold mining, timber trafficking, and logging. It has strong links with local political and economic figures. ? The ADF/NALU has an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 armed fighters.?
Bana Mura is a new militia group that was formed around March/April 2017 by the Tshokwe, Pende, and Tetela ethnic groups with the apparent backing of the government.? The group has emerged amid the conflict in the Kasai region, and has carried out attacks aimed at eliminating the entire Luba and Lula populations whom they accuse of being accomplices of the Kamuina Nsapu.?
Bundu Dia Mayala (BDM), formerly Bundu dia Kongo, is a political-cultural movement, formed in 1969, to restore the former kingdom of Kongo, whose authority extended over DRC, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon in the 16th century. ?
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was founded by some of the key perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, who fled across the border into eastern DRC in the wake of those massacres.? The FDLR are allied with the Mayi-Mayi Nyatura, a Hutu militia, to protect Hutu interests. Since August 2016, the FDLR and FDLR-allied Mayi-Mayi Nyatura have been mainly active in Nord-Kivu.?
The Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC) is the state organisation responsible for defending the DRC. The majority of FARDC members are land forces, but it also has a small air force and an even smaller navy. Together, the three services may number between 144,000 and 159,000 personnel.?
Front of Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) was established in November 2002 among the Ngiti ethnic group to fight for the region’s natural resources (TRAC 2015). The FRPI was born out of local fighting over land as well as the proxy wars between DRC, Uganda and Rwanda.? FRPI attacks increased in Irumu, Ituri, in 2015, after a failed disarmament programme at the end of 2014 (OCHA 19/04/2015). In October 2016, sporadic attacks by FRPI have increased in Ituri.?
Kamuina Nsapu militia are active in the Kasai region. Kamuina Nsapu is the hereditary title for the chief of Bajila Kasanga, or Bashila, a groupement containing several villages in Dibataie sector, Kasai-Central. Jean-Pierre Mpandi (Kamuina Nsapu) was a tribal leader killed in fighting on 12 August 2016. He had vowed to rid Kasai-Central province of all state security forces, accusing them of abusing the local population, and withholding a large share of the state's wealth.? Since August 2016, militia have sought to avenge his death, and continue his battle to rid Kasai-Central of all state security forces. The exact number of fighters is currently unknown.? On 16 April, Jacques Kabeya Ntumba Mupala was designated as tribal leader of the Kamuina Nsapu militia, and the sucessor of Mpandi.?As of mid-April, Kamuina Nsapu militia is reportedly made up of several dozens of relatively autonomous groups with varying agendas, including an estimated 1,220 boys and 658 girls, although according to UN Human Rights Council experts, the number of child soldiers recruited by Kamuina Nsapu militia is most likely significantly higher. ?
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was founded by Joseph Kony in Uganda in 1989 and spread to South Sudan, then to DRC and CAR. LRA attacks and abductions declined each year since 2011, reflecting the group’s reduced fighting capacity and Joseph Kony’s intentional strategy to minimise large-scale attacks that attract international attention.? However, since May they have been more active in Ango, Bas-Uele. Withdrawal of Ugandan and US forces from neighbouring CAR may explain greater freedom of movement.?
La Lucha ("Lutte pour le changement") is an organisation founded by university students in 2012 in Goma, Nord-Kivu, which aims to denounce the lack of public services accross the country, using non-violent means.? Its members are often detained for several days, as La Lucha often call for demonstrations against president Kabila.?
March 23 Movement (M23) was formed in April 2012 following a mutiny by members of FARDC. The group was mainly composed of members of the Tutsi ethnic group. They were led by several top-ranking officers who were members of a former militia called the CNDP. M23 activities in eastern DRC, from April 2012 to November 2013, displaced over 800,000 people. In 2012, the group seized Goma, before their defeat in 2013. The group surrendered in Uganda.? In January 2017, over 200 ex-M23 members reportedly crossed the border from Uganda into Nord-Kivu.?Since January, ex-M23 members who remain in Uganda have demanded that President Kabila respect the terms of their agreement to end hostilities and allow them to return to DRC.? At the end of January, approximately 30 ex-M23 members reportedly sought refuge in Rwanda, due to an ongoing FARDC offensive in Nord-Kivu against the ex-M23 members who have recently arrived from Uganda.?
Mayi-Mayi: At least 20 Mayi-Mayi groups, formed by local leaders along ethnic lines, are active in Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, and former Katanga. The number of fighters can range from 100 to 1,000 in one group. The term Mayi-Mayi refers to a range of local and community-based militias who have been active since, and during DRC's two wars between 1996 and 2003.?
Mayi-Mayi Nyatura was founded in 2010. Mayi-Mayi Nyatura has collaborated with both FDLR and FARDC to protect Hutu interests. In 2012, some Mayi-Mayi Nyatura forces were integrated into the FARDC.? Since August 2016, Mayi-Mayi Nyatura has been active in Nord-Kivu, in alliance with the FDLR.? On 12 May, Nyantura's leader was apprehended by FARDC in Rutshuru territory, Nord Kivu.?
Mayi-Mayi Raiya Mutomboki was established in 2005 in Sud-Kivu’s Shabunda territory by army defector Pastor Jean Musumbu in response to FDLR massacres.?Since it was established, the group has been primarily active in Sud-Kivu. In 2016, fighting among different factions of Raiya Mutomboki and FARDC has intensified in Sud-Kivu.?
Mayi-Mayi Mazembe has been active in Nord-Kivu since mid-2016. Since early February, Mayi-Mayi Mazembe has launched several attacks, mainly against Hutu civilians, in Rutshuru territory (Nord-Kivu).?
The UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) is composed of over 16,000 troops, as well as military observers and police units.? The initial mission, MONUC, was established after the 1999 peace agreement between DRC and five neighbouring countries.?In March 2014, its mandate was expanded and an Intervention Brigade was created to fight against armed groups (RFI 20/10/2014). In February, MONUSCO resumed cooperation with FARDC, which had ceased for almost a year due to allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by FARDC. The mission today has three priorities: protecting civilians, stabilising the country, and supporting implementation of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region.?On 2 April, the UN Security Council passed a resolution extending the mandate of MONUSCO until 2018. However, the number of MONUSCO troops is expected to decrease from over 19,000 to 16,000.?Since August 2016, several MONSUCO troops have been deployed to the Kasai region, due to insecurity from the presence of Kamuina Nsapu militia.?