The evolving Landscape of Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Disclaimer: This is work in progress (and might always remain such…).

Two decades of armed conflict have created a complex topography in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Current estimates by research institutions, multilateral and non-governmental organisations, and individual analysts indicate a myriad of over fifty armed groups of all sorts and shapes across the Kivu provinces, Maniema, Orientale, and Katanga. While some of them are not more than rag-tag groups of 10-20 ‘bandits’ or vigilante groups, others dispose over large-scale – either centralised or guerilla-styled – command structures, supply routes, and sophisticated tactics.

Almost all these groups have committed violent acts against either civilian population or opposed actors. Nonetheless, almost all these groups carry (at least to some extent) a political ideology and motivation. Whether self-defence, grievance over land and/or resources, political participation, or others and whether justified or not, is subject to respective debate.

While the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo are responsible for a fair share of violations as well, they do not (yet) feature in these maps. The same applies to neighbouring armies allegedly involved in eastern Congo and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO with its intervention brigade.

The mapping below provides basic information on the current topography of  these armed groups operating in the DRC. It maps a larger part of these groups, including those most relevant for the politico-military landscape of eastern DRC in terms of strength and/or impact on ongoing politico-military developments in the country.

The background map used for this mapping exercise is a combination of RGC’s and UNDP’s provincial maps for North and South Kivu. All data used has been compiled by a wide range of complementary sources amended by scrutiny of several individual researchers to whom I am deeply grateful while maintaining full anonymity (while errors remain mine). Further sources, where open to disclosure, are indicated on the maps for transparency reasons.

The maps below aim at tentatively situating many of the key armed groups in North and South Kivu at various points of time (in a trimestrial, four months, interval – i.e. October/February/June). As this is work in progress, the exact proportions may not always exactly display the real situation. Subsequent versions will include more actors, more detailed information on them (still in the process of crosschecking and reviewing), as well as possibly more refined geographical distributions. Note that the marked areas are approximate zones of influence and not clearly demarcated territories since it is impossible, even for a concrete point in time, to exactly indicate the locations.

Future maps will aim at including additional actors and, if possible, provide annexes with more detailed information.

Please also note that by producing this map I do not – by any means – endorse dominant narratives of state failure or similar. Rather this map is supposed to serve as a resource to underpin the complex intricacies of state and non-state governance, and the arena in which statehood is negotiated among a variety of actors claiming authority in eastern Congo.

NB: Critique, suggestions, and comments are utterly welcome and may be dropped here.

Again, to avoid misunderstandings: Zones of influence, not necessarily full control, for the indicated snapshots, i.e. points of time (click on the respective maps to see in full size). Changes in the subsequent maps reflect either changes on the ground or (for the time being) refinements relating to improved information. This exercise does not entail any claim of full accuracy and merely represents an approximate assessment of the situation with uncertainty and potential errors always remaining.

June 2014 (based on additional crosschecks/background research and fieldwork in May and June 2014, including approximate FARDC positions)

GA Mapping III 7

February 2014 (based on additional crosschecks/background research and fieldwork in January and February 2014)

GA Mapping II 5 copy

October 2013 (mainly based on fieldwork and background research in 2012 and 2013 and to some extent 2008-2011)

GA Mapping 16 copy

List of non-state armed actors:

(italics = defunct or idle)

North Kivu

  • Mouvement du 23 mars (M23)
  • Forces Démocratique pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)-Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FOCA, Rwanda)
  • Forces Démocratique pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)-Soki (Rwanda)
  • Ralliement pour l’Unité et la Démocratie (RUD)-Urunana
  • Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo Libre et Souverain (APCLS)
  • Nduma Defence du Congo (NDC)/Mayi Mayi Sheka
  • Forces pour la Défense du Congo (FDC)-Guides
  • Mouvement d’Action pour le Changement (MAC)
  • Mouvement Populaire d’Autodéfense (MPA)-Nyatura 
  • Force de Défense d’Intérêts du Peuple Congolais (FDIPC)-Nyatura
  • Konjonjo-Nyatura
  • M26-Nyatura
  • Forces Organisées pour la Défense du people (FODP)/Vutura-Nyatura
  • Noheri-Nyatura
  • Forces pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (FDDH)-Nyatura
  • Mayi Mayi Kifuafua
  • Mayi Mayi Shetani-Forces Populaires pour la Démocratie (FPD) 
  • Mayi Mayi Luc/Kumu
  • Rassemblement pour l’Unité du Congo (RUC)-Bapfakururimi
  • Union pour la Réhabilitation de la Démocratie du Congo (URDC)/Mayi Mayi Hilaire (ex-FOLC)
  • Forces Populaires du Congo (FPC)/Mayi Mayi Lafontaine/Union des Patriotes Congolais pour la Paix (UPCP)
  • Local Defense Busumba

South Kivu

  • Forces Démocratique pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)-Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FOCA, Rwanda)
  • Raia Mutomboki Isangi/Itebero (Walikale)
  • Raia Mutomboki Kigulube (forming the ‘Shabunda part’ of Raia Mutomboki with the three following branches)
  • Raia Mutomboki Nduma
  • Raia Mutomboki Musumbu
  • Raia Mutomboki Shabunda
  • Raia Mutomboki Kalehe
  • Coalition Raia Mukombozi
  • Front National pour la Libération (FNL, Burundi)
  • Front pour la Restauration de la Démocratie (FRD, Burundi) 
  • Mayi Mayi Kirikicho
  • Mayi Mayi Nyakiliba
  • Local Defense (FALL, Mushombe, Moliere, et al.)
  • Mouvement Congolais pour le Changement (MCC)/Bede
  • Tawimbi group
  • Muhima Nkingi/Banyamulenge groups (possibly with Alliance de libération de l’est du Congo, ALEC?)
  • Mayi Mayi Yakutumba/Parti pour l’Action et la Reconstruction du Congo-Forces Armés Alleluia (PARC-FAAL)
  • Mayi Mayi Fujo/MDP (MPDC coalition?)
  • Mayi Mayi Mayele/Force Populaire pour la Défense du Congo (FPDC)
  • Mayi Mayi Chochi/UCCB (MPDC coalition?)
  • Mayi Mayi Aoci (MPDC coalition?)
  • Mayi Mayi Mulumba (MPDC coalition?)
  • Mayi Mayi Simba
  • Mayi Mayi Jules
  • Mayi Mayi ex-Kapopo/Eradi
  • Mayi Mayi Mupekenya
  • Mayi Mayi Nyerere
  • Sikatenda group


  • Mayi Mayi Morgan
  • Front de Résistance Populaire de l’Ituri (FRPI)/Coalition des Groupes Armés de l’Ituri (COGAI)
  • FLPC
  • M18


  • Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga
  • Mayi Mayi Totye 
  • Mayi Mayi Gédéon
  • Coalition pour le Referendum au Katanga (CORAK)


  • Mayi Mayi Simba
  • Mayi Mayi Kabambare
  • Mayi Mayi Lumumba
  • Raia Mutomboki Maniema
15 Responses to “Mapping”
  1. josaphat Musamba says:

    felicitations christoph pour cet effort car i en manquait mais je pense que pour les Raiya Mutomboki , le Groupe de Kigulube s’appelle déjà Mukombozi depuis la fin de l’année dernière conf§re le document historique de Kengwa Omari Dont

  2. Encore un article franchement attractif

  3. On remarquе direct qսe vouѕ coոnaissez bien lee thème

  4. This is great, thanks so much for this!

  5. This is great work and good sound analysis

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] APCLS’s areas of influence as of June, see the mapping of Christoph […]

  2. […] did after Operation Rwenzori in 2010.” For ADF’s approximate location as of recent, see the mapping by Christoph […]

  3. […] Mer thun fer yeers aft'r t'signyun' o't' Dodd-Frank Ack, onlee a small fracshun o't' hundreds o'minyun' sites n' t'eastern DRC have bee reechet by practical meesures emanatyun' frum Dodd-Frank legislayshun, such as supplee chane traceebilitee er mineral expert certificashun. As o'noe, fer arees (Nyabibwe, Rubaya, Lemera, an' Nzibira) have bee innerduced into traceebilitee schemes a'lettin fer legal trade n' tin, tantalum, an' tungste (3T) minerals. Wile thay include roun 30 minyun' sites, t'overwhelmyun' majeritee o'minyun' sites (fur mer thun 1000 across t'provinces o'Nerth an' South Kivu alone) has nairy becum part o't' baggyun'-an'-taggyun' system iTSCi, put n' place by t'internatyunal tin industry bodee ITRI. T' result is a de facto embargo targetyun' t'lion’s share o'Congolese minyun' communitees, wile at t'same time violence an' t'presence o'armet groups have nairy signifikuntlee decreeset n' t'region. […]

  4. […] More than four years after the signing of the Dodd-Frank Act, only a small fraction of the hundreds of mining sites in the eastern DRC have been reached by practical measures emanating from Dodd-Frank legislation, such as supply chain traceability or mineral export certification. As of now, four areas (Nyabibwe, Rubaya, Lemera, and Nzibira) have been introduced into traceability schemes allowing for legal trade in tin, tantalum, and tungsten (3T) minerals. While they include around 30 mining sites, the overwhelming majority of mining sites (far more than 1000 across the provinces of North and South Kivu alone) has not become part of the bagging-and-tagging system iTSCi, put in place by the international tin industry body ITRI. The result is a de facto embargo targeting the lion’s share of Congolese mining communities, while at the same time violence and the presence of armed groups have not significantly decreased in the region. […]

  5. […] support, arms and ammunition. The group is operating in Mambasa and Bafwasende districts in Orientale Province. While the Mai Mai Morgan militia has no official objective, the group has been heavily involved in […]

  6. […] ammunition. The group is operating in Mambasa and Bafwasende districts in Orientale Province (see mapping by Christoph […]

  7. […] ammunition. The group is operating in Mambasa and Bafwasende districts in Orientale Province (see mapping by Christoph Vogel). While the Morgan has no official objective, the group has been heavily involved […]

  8. […] the role of these minerals is much more ambiguous. While it is true that various actors within a myriad of about 50 non-state armed groups in eastern Congo prey on natural resource deposits, recent observations show that most of these groups carefully […]

  9. […] of influence of more than 50 armed groups in North and South Kivu.  Read about his methodology here.  Click to enlarge the […]

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