Hearings / The Mutarule Case

The responsibility of the NGOs and the UN

Does uncertainty and violence continue in Eastern Congo because too many local and international players benefit from the conflicts?

In June 2014 a massacre took place in Mutarule, a village close to the Rwandan and Burundi border, leaving 35 people dead. It was the fourth massacre in two years. Despite many indications from local authorities, the UN and the Congolese army about the unstable situation in the region, neither the UN-troops or the Congolese army were able to prevent the massacre. Does uncertainty and violence continue in Eastern Congo because too many local and international players are involved in the conflicts? Do they benefit from them or prevent them from getting worse?

In Congo, like in many other former colonies, independence could never cultivate a stable government — not to mention a functioning civil society. The ruined traditional and civil society structures and absent state monopolies have been superseded by western financed parallel structures: the NGOs and the UN peace missions. Denounced as merely self-sustaining, fatally entangled in the respective power systems of neocolonial apparatuses, the NGOs and the UN missions currently find themselves in a crisis of legitimacy. Is the peacekeeping policy of the international community co-responsible for the continuing conflict?


"MONUSCO has betrayed its mandate."

Witness J (witness, Bukavu) survivor of the Mutarule massacre.


"The government has not tried everything to stop these conflicts."

Christine Kapalata (witness, Bukavu) only 3 days after the massacre in Mutarule, she agreed to make a statement on behalf of the UNO-mission. At that time, she was the Chief of Political Affairs of the MONUSCO office in Bukavu. In this position, she was mediating between political leaders and ethnic communities.


"There were disagreements in the military command chain."

Jean-Julien Miruho (witness, Bukavu) is Minister of the Interior of South Kivu. He was the only Congolese politician on-site in Mutarule. He declines all government's accountability. According to him, it is a “regrettable dispute about cattle“.


"Mutarule is not the first case of inability, passivity and powerlessness of the UN mission."

Luc Henkinbrant (witness and expert, Bukavu) was the regional director of the MONUSCO-office in Bukavu until 2011. Currently, he works as a professor at the University of Bukavu, leading different research projects on the lack of law enforcement in this region.


"The UN is only as strong as its member states allow it to be."

Linda Polman (witness, Berlin) is one of the most dedicated critics of aid agencies and the peacekeeping missions of the UN (MONUSCO). She criticizes the negative impacts of the NGOs superficial help that prevent any political change in these countries.


"The outdated system of aid organizations leads to dependency and ignores sustainability."

Saran Kaba Jones (member of the jury, Berlin) founder of FACE Africa in 2009, an aid agency, providing several regions in Liberia with drinking water. The Guardian listed her as one of the 25 most successful women in Africa. The World Economic Forum in Davos has chosen her to be the Young Global Leader.