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Batwa–Luba clashes
Democratic Republic of the Congo (26 provinces) - Tanganyika.svg
Location of Tanganyika Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(8 years, 7 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)
LocationTanganyika, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Status Ongoing

Pygmy Batwa militias

Luba militias

Casualties and losses
Hundreds killed,[2] 650,000 displaced[3]

The Batwa–Luba clashes are a series of ongoing clashes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the Pygmy Batwa people,[lower-alpha 1] and the Luba people starting in 2013.


The pygmy Batwa are often exploited and allegedly enslaved[1] by the Luba and other Bantu groups. While the pygmy never organized militarily to resist, starting with the First Congo War, rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who won the war, organized the Twa into paramilitary groups to help him. His son, Joseph Kabila, who succeeded him, used these militias in the Second Congo War and against the predominately Luba Mai-Mai Kata Katanga.[5]

Course of the conflict

IDPs from Nyunzu Territory who have fled the clashes between Batwa and Luba.

In Tanganyika Province, in the northern part of the former Katanga Province, starting in 2013, Pygmy Batwa rose up into militias, such as the "Perci" militia, and attacked Luba villages.[6] A Luba militia known as "Elements" attacked back, notably killing at least 30 people in the "Vumilia 1" displaced people camp in April 2015. Since the start of the conflict, hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes.[1] The weapons used in the conflict are often arrows, axes, and machetes, rather than guns.[6][7]

In October 2015, Pygmy and Luba leaders sign a peace deal to end the conflict.[8] In September 2016, the United Nations along with provincial authorities established local councils called "baraza" to address grievances and this appeared to reduce the violence.[5] However, clashes intensified at the end of 2016,[9] as the government tried to enforce a tax on caterpillars that the Batwa harvest as important food source,[7][10] while the military attempted to arrest a Twa warlord.[5] Both of these events led to a violent backlash and a spread of the fighting.[5][7] Twa militias also started to target Tutsis, another Bantu group, by slaughtering their cows.[5] A ceasefire brokered by the United Nations in February 2017 failed, and the violence continued.[11] In August 2017, the clashes intensified after Batwa attacked a group of Luba near Kalemie; in course of the following fighting about 50 people died, most of them Luba.[12] Batwa fighters also attacked a MONUSCO convoy with arrows. A number of Blue Helmets were wounded, though they still opted not to return fire.[7]

By the end of 2017, 650,000 people had been displaced due to the fighting.[3] The economy in Tanganyika had mostly collapsed, while fields could no longer be harvested.[13] As result, malnutrition spread amongst those who had fled,[3] as well as those who stayed at their homes.[13]



More than a thousand people were killed in the first eight months of 2014 alone.[5]

Displaced people

The number of displaced people are estimated to be 650,000 as of December 2017.[3] Around March 2017, 543,000 had fled, up from 370,000 in December 2016, the strongest growth of the current conflicts in the Congo, which has the largest population of displaced people in Africa. Many refugees are allegedly forced by the government to leave the camps and return to their homes, where the fighting still continues.[5]


  1. The two major divisions of Pygmies in the DRC are the Bambuti, or Mbuti, who largely live in the Ituri forest in the northeast, and the Batwa, but many Batwa in certain areas of the country also refer to themselves as Bambuti.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "DR Congo: Ethnic Militias Attack Civilians in Katanga". Human Rights Watch. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  2. "DR Congo: Ethnic Militias Attack Civilians in Katanga". Human Rights Watch. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Stricken by communal violence and malnutrition in Tanganyika, Democratic Republic of the Congo". International Committee of the Red Cross. 29 December 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  4. "Democratic Republic of the Congo - Batwa and Bambuti". Minority Rights Group International. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "Displaced Congolese civilians sent back to a widening war". 11 July 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "In Congo, Wars Are Small and Chaos Is Endless". 30 April 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Mühlbauer, Peter (1 September 2017). "Kongo: Pygmäen gegen Bantu" (in German). Heinz Heise. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  8. "Pygmy and Bantu leaders sign peace deal in southeast Congo". Reuters. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2017. 
  9. "Democratic Republic of the Congo Humanitarian Situation Report". Reliefweb. 
  10. "'Caterpillar tax': DR Congo ethnic clash sees 16 killed". BBC. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  11. Johnson, Dominic (1 September 2017). "Vertrieben und schutzlos" (in German). Die Tageszeitung.!5441270/. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  12. "Dozens killed in ethnic violence in eastern Congo". Reuters. 6 August 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2017. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Tanganyika: At a snail’s pace". International Committee of the Red Cross. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 

External links

  • Reliefweb, [1], November 24, 2016

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