On Thursday, June 15, two humanitarian workers working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were released after being kidnapped by unidentified gunmen between Kirumba and Beni in the east of North Kivu province on June 7. According to ICRC, both workers were released without any ransom being paid and were wounded while being held captive.
The organization has suspended activities in the area until further notice, prohibiting all travel to the region.
Kidnapping for ransom is a significant threat in eastern regions of the DRC. There have been a growing number of attacks against mine workers and NGOs operating in the region, a manifestation of the state’s limited presence in the eastern provinces and the presence of numerous armed groups and local self-defense militias (Maï-Maï militias). In March, two members of a UN Group of Experts - a Swede and a US national - were kidnapped and subsequently killed in Kasai-Central province, which has also seen an uptick in violence.
Due to these and other security concerns, many Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu (particularly outside the cities of Goma and Bukavu), as well as the northeast portion of Eastern province and the northern part of Katanga due to the presence of armed groups. Certain governments also advise against nonessential travel to the rest of the country.