Militia holds Congo villagers over a few cents’ tribute

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Dozens of villagers in this Central African nation are being held captive by a local militia.
The reason? Their inability to pay protection money totaling some seven U.S. cents a month.
Over 100 people living in villages in the North Kivu province’s Baswagha and Bapere areas in the Lubero territory have been detained by Mai Mai militiamen over their failure to pay the small-sounding sum.
Lt. Brian Kamale, a security officer in North Kivu, told Anadolu Agency that the people have been held at the Mai Mai militia base for two days.
They “failed to pay a fee of 1,000 Congolese francs [$0.7] each put in place by the militia group. That place is remote and not easy to reach,” he added.
He said that the people in the area are very poor, living below the poverty line, and can hardly afford the militia’s tribute money.
It is common for militia groups in the DRC to control areas and impose fees to be paid by people there. They also compel some gold mines’ managers to pay them money periodically, saying it is meant to provide them and their workers “security”.
Some militia groups also deal in drugs to raise money to buy guns.
A local NGO, the International Circle for the Defense of Human Rights, Peace and the Environment (CIDHOPPE), has called for military operations to neutralize the militias and protect the population and its property, including the tribute money.
It said that it contacted the administration of the territory of Lubero but it told them that state authority is not yet fully established in the chiefdom of Baswagha and its surroundings.

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