The phenomenon of armed groups in North Kivu has been the subject of several studies in relation to their location, their motives and the impact of their presence on local populations. Contrary to the dominant narrative which tends to explain armed violence by the presence of mining resources, this study analyzes the various other local resources, justifying both their longevity and their development. Armed groups are indeed integrated into local economic circuits linking rural areas, from where they operate, to urban centers, which are for them a real opportunity for lucrative markets. Also, they generate significant financial resources for their sustainability, on the one hand, and for the enrichment of those who maintain them, on the other hand.
This study will focus on two groups, the FDLR and the NDC-Rénové. These are by far the most active currently in North Kivu and also have a double interest. On the one hand, the FDLR, a cross-border armed group of Rwandan origin that has remained the object of regional diplomatic and military strategies for almost twenty years, has never weakened; their nuisance capacity remained intact in eastern DRC. On the other hand, the NDC-R, a Congolese group resulting from the split of the NDC which was raging in the territory of Walikale and led by General Guidon Shimwiray Mwissa, seriously widened the space under its control, on the one hand by fighting some groups, and making allies of others, on the other.
Both groups also offer the benefit of varying geographical perspectives. The FDLR are more operational in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo and focus their economic activism in protected areas (Virunga National Park and Rutshuru Hunting Domain). The NDC-R is, for its part, present in the territories of Lubero and Masisi where it imposes various taxes on the mobility of goods and people, but also in Walikale where it is very active in the circuits of artisanal exploitation of ores. In recent months, this movement has extended its area of influence in certain parts of Rutshuru territory, particularly in the Bwito groupement, from where it claims to drive out the FDLR and all other foreign groups. This territorial extension of the NDC-R obviously corresponds to the extension of its sources of income, in particular through the imposition of various taxes on the new communities under its control.