The DR Congo Banyamulenge community has again petitioned UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, over continued ethnic cleansing targeting them. The petition calls for the international community to intervene and stop the continued brutal killings which are taking place in Minembwe in South Kivu Province. It is copied to several world leaders including Presidents Félix Tshisekedi of the DR Congo, Paul Kagame and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is also AU Chairperson. Leila Zerrougui, head of MONUSCO, and Adama Dieng, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, are also copied in the new petition. It is with great sadness that we, the undersigned, acting on behalf of the Banyamulenge community, write this letter to bring to your attention our deep concerns about the escalating violence increasingly taking the shape of genocidal killings and ethnic cleansing targeting members of the Banyamulenge (community), reads the petition. One of the signatories, Adele Kibasumba, president of Mahoro Peace Association, a USA-based Congolese NGO, told The New Times that: Our community is crying for help. So far, she said, nothing has happened in over a year of targeted violence against her community. The situation of insecurity and violence in the Hauts-Plateaux of South Kivu, particularly Minembwe and surrounding areas, the homeland of the Banyamulenge, is highlighted in previous reports by UN groups of Experts. Pessimistic regarding UNs inaction A member of the Banyamulenge community in Rwanda told The New Times that their latest petition is part of several efforts that they deployed to inform the international community and mobilize its support against ethnic cleansing of which the Banyamulenge are the targets since 2017 in South Kivu areas of Fizi, Mwenga and Uvira territories. Dr Aggée Shyaka Mugabe, a conflict analyst from the University of Rwandas Center for Conflict Management, however, said he was pessimistic regarding the feedback from the UN. For one, Mugabe noted, the UN knew what was going on even before petitions were circulated, and there are many. For your information, MONUSCO, the largest UN peacekeeping force in history has been present in Minembwe for several years. Minembwe is one of the bases of its forces. Therefore, the UN is better informed than anyone else about the crisis of Minembwe, Mugabe pointed out. Additional strategies used, he explained, include advocacy in DR Congo government and peace and reconciliation meetings with other communities in South Kivu.. Secondly, Mugabe noted, UN Under-Secretary General in charge of Peace Support Operations, Jean Pierre la Croix, visited Minembwe on September 4, 2019 to learn more about the situation. The UN Headquarters is therefore aware about the massacres going on. During his short stay, he called for peace but there is no change so far. The third reason for being pessimistic, according to Mugabe, is that in Minembwe, like any other areas with insecurity, the core reason for MONUSCOs presence was protection of civilians, but hundreds of civilians are massacred sometimes within less than six kilometers from MONUSCO bases or compounds. Among other incidents, it is noted, on April 18, two Banyamulenge women, Nyamwiza Francine and Nyiramutarutwa Naziraje, were tortured and killed by the Mai Mai militia after being subjected to the most atrocious forms of torture and humiliating acts of sexual violence. Graphic images of the womens mutilated bodies were shared on social media. The petition indicates that the victims were part of a group of half a dozen women who left their precarious place of refuge in Minembwe in desperation and headed to their neighbouring village to harvest food. They had an escort of the Congolese army (FARDC). On the way, however, they were attacked by Mai Mai groups who captured three women and a man, Adoni Sebarezi who was also killed”. Who is attacking the Banyamulenge? According to the petition, the attacks are carried out by a coalition of Mai-Mai militia from neighbouring ethnic communities, in collaboration and concertation with armed militia from neighbouring countries. Kibasumba said: The continued attacks are not all the fault of Congo since there are many foreign-backed militia groups fueling the attacks. Most prominent in the foreign armed militias is the RED-TABARA, FNL and FOREBU from Burundi.There have also been intelligence reports that point to Burundi government soldiers operating in the area. In the past, Rwandan armed groups have also operated in the area, namely P5, CNRD/FLN as well as remnants if the Interahamwe militia, though these have been downsized by the DRC government forces in the recent past There is already a big contingent of UN peacekeepers in the area, but civilians continue to die in growing numbers, Kibasumba said. We are warning them of a slow-moving genocide happening to the Banyamulenge community. We need them to act swiftly and protect civilians, and stop this orchestrated destruction on our community. Why are the Banyamulenge being harassed, killed? The petition pointed out that the Banyamulenge, just like many other Congolese communities, were established on the territory of what was to become the DR Congo far before the demarcation of African colonial boundaries. Under the Congolese Constitution and applicable laws, the Congolese citizenship of Banyamulenge is unquestionable, as reiterated by President Tshisekedi in a speech to the Congolese diaspora in London on 19 January 2020, reads the petition. However, patterns of discrimination and targeted killings over the years created conditions whereby they have constantly been treated by neighbouring communities and some authorities as foreigners or second-class citizens. Kibasumba went on to say: Were targeted mainly because were an ethnic minority in DRC. Were a small Tutsi community that has been living in South Kivu for centuries. No other Congolese ethnic group is targeted in the ongoing conflicts but the Banyamulenge, she stressed. And its all because they are Tutsi. There are also historical, governance, and social aspects to the violence, including ignorance among local populations about what ails them. This makes our community a scapegoat for all the ills the country is suffering. Since August 2018, waves of violence there claimed hundreds of casualties, pushed thousands to flee after their villages were set on fire. Thousands have fled to neighbouring countries, including Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Indicatively, hundreds of thousands of cows have also been stolen with a clear intention to deprive the Banyamulenge of the core resource that sustains their livelihoods, the petition states. Survivors have sought refuge in their thousands in camps in Minembwe where they live under constant fear of attacks and in precarious conditions due to poor shelter and limited humanitarian assistance. All communities living in the Hauts Plateaux are negatively impacted by the unfolding tragedy but the pattern of systematic attacks directed against the Banyamulenge clearly demonstrate an intent to cleanse the area of all members of this community through killings and destruction of anything that sustains their livelihoods.