Deep in the forest, miles from any major city, lies an abandoned cotton factory full of the dispossessed.
There is no police force guarding it. No electricity or running water inside. No sense of urgency or deep concern by the national authorities to do much about it.
Instead, as the days pass, hundreds of displaced people make cooking fires or sit quietly on the concrete factory floor. Dressed in rags, they stare into space, next to huge rusted iron machinery that has not turned for decades. They are members of the Bambote, a marginalized group of forest dwellers who are victims of one of the obscure little wars that this country seems to have a talent for producing.
“It’s like we don’t exist,” said Kalunga Etienne, a Bambote elder.
This is what the Democratic Republic of Congo, the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and one that has stymied just about all efforts to right it, has become: a tangle of miniwars.
More than 60 armed groups are operating in North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces, including a growing Islamist insurgency, whose fighters have hacked hundreds of people to death. Beyond that, there are remnants in the Uele area of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that specializes in abducting children and turning them into killers; predatory rebels in Ituri; Bakata separatists in Katanga; armed factions in Maniema; fighters in the Nyunzu area; and youth militias in the capital, Kinshasa.
Few nations in Africa, if not the world, are home to as many armed groups. Even after billions of dollars in aid, one of the largest peacekeeping missions in United Nations history and substantial international attention over two decades, Congo’s government is incapable of providing the most elemental service: security.
Fragmentation. Factionalization. Decay. Ungoverned space. Ungovernable space. These are the terms used by aid workers and academics to describe Congo today. And it is likely to get worse.
This is an extract from Jeffrey Gettleman article that run with this photographs on The New York Times. You can read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/world/africa/in-congo-wars-are-small-and-chaos-is-endless.html