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Security Brief: AFRICOM Week of March 27, 2022

March 27 - 30, 2022 | Issue 1

Isaac Clemons, Matthias Conti, Natalie Weidenbach, AFRICOM Team

Carlos Hochberger, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

M23 Militants in Bunagana[1]

Date: March 28, 2022

Location: Mpika, Zambia

Parties involved: Mpika City government; World Vision Zambia; Zambia Ministry of Health; Mpika Town Council Fire Brigade; Unknown arsonists

The event: Around 1900 local time, unknown arsonists destroyed a health post in Mpika. The fire destroyed a motorbike used for transporting patients, a refrigerator used for preserving sensitive vaccines, and solar panels. The health post served 6000 people from surrounding communities; it provided basic health services like vaccinations and first aid, and was donated by World Vision Zambia. Local authorities have stated that there are no suspects.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The loss of the health clinic will very likely decrease the availability of healthcare in the region. 6000 people will almost certainly lose access to medical transportation as well as preventative vaccinations. It is likely that the local or national government will not replace the clinic because the government did not build this clinic. The loss of the vaccine refrigerator will likely decrease childhood vaccination against lethal diseases and viruses, which is likely to increase cases of infant mortality in the region.

  • The violence against the clinic is likely to set a precedent for the local population, who are likely to perceive the attack as a departure from traditional norms of violence, in which civilian targets are spared. It is unlikely that the government will be able to enforce the norms of violence because they do not have any suspects. If the government’s response is perceived as insufficient by the population, confidence in the ability of institutions to protect them is likely to lead to protests and violence.

Date: March 28-29, 2022

Location: Runyonyi; Chanzu, Ndiza, Kabindi, Rangira, Rwankuba, Rutshuru territory, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Parties involved: March 23 Movement (M23) militants; Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC)

The event: Early Monday morning, at around 0100 local time, M23 militants attacked three separate FARDC positions at Runyoni, Chanzu, and Ndiza, in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Heavy fighting continued until 1100, and resumed on Tuesday in Kabindi, Rangira, Rwankuba. Reports indicate that as many as 6000 individuals from local communities fled towards Uganda via the Bunagana border. Runyonyi is located approximately 50km north of Goma.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Increased military deployment to the affected area is almost certainly due to the scale of the attack. Renewed military presence in the region is very likely to lead to increased security measures such as roadblocks and checkpoints, almost certainly affecting major city centers, including Goma. This is very likely to hamper transportation of goods and personnel in and out of the city, almost certainly affecting international organizations, including embassies, operating in Goma. Further attacks on FARDC and MONUSCO forces in the Rutshuru territory are very likely.

  • The large number of displaced people leaving Rutshuru is very likely to affect the security of neighboring territories and their municipalities along the border with Uganda due to the over-demand on the resources of the communities located along the border. Tensions between communities are very likely to arise due to competition over resources. Inter-communal violence is very likely to increase insecurity in the region, almost certainly undermining ongoing humanitarian and military efforts in both DRC and Uganda and likely reducing investment in the region due to international organizations and businesses leaving the area.

  • The overall large scale of the operation likely indicates that M23 rebels have increased military capabilities and number of troops. Because of this, there is a roughly even chance that the M23 group will be able to obtain control of territory across Rutshuru through future attacks, almost certainly forcing MONUSCO and FARDC forces to engage heavily in counter-insurgency warfare. Heavy fighting is very likely to disrupt regional trade and the delivery of humanitarian assistance programs in the North Kivu and Western Region of Uganda areas. In the event of sustained heavy fighting, local communities are very likely to be victims of deliberate as well as incidental violence from FARDC and MONUSCO forces and rebel groups.

Date: March 28, 2022

Location: Juba, South Sudan

Parties involved: President Salva Kiir; First Vice President Riek Machar; South Sudan People Defense Forces (SSPDF); Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO); UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

The event: On Sunday, March 27, SSPDF troops deployed to First Vice President Riek Machar’s residence in armored personnel carriers. Machar released a statement saying the deployment “undermines peacebuilding”.[4] Recently, President Salva Kiir and Machar disputed stipulations in the 2018 peace agreement. Machar recalled the 2013 and 2016 incidents in which forces loyal to Kiir and him fought, plunging the country into civil war. Machar also called on SPLM/A-IO loyal to him to remain in a ceasefire until a resolution was reached. This comes after a recent UN warning that South Sudan risked a return to war due to inter-ethnic violence and political infighting and an extension of UNMISS for another year. UNMISS is one of the most expensive operations for the UN.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Despite Machar’s call for no retaliation, SPLM/A-IO forces are likely to view the deployment of SSPDF forces as a threat and deploy their troops to the Machar residence for protection. With political tensions high, there is a roughly even chance SSPDF and SPLM/A-IO forces near each other will lead to violence. Violence outside Machar’s residence has an almost even chance of reaching Machar, likely provoking protests by citizens loyal to him. President Kiir will likely need to release a similar press statement calling for peace to uphold the ceasefire to prevent violence from escalating.

  • Due to South Sudan’s history of political infighting, continued disagreement over stipulations in the 2018 peace agreement will likely lead to clashes between troops loyal to Kiir and Machar. The safety and security of civilians are at risk, which is almost certain to increase the need for UN peacekeeping forces. If violence reaches heights comparable to previous years, UNMISS will likely be extended, increasing costs for the UN and supporting countries which may deter willingness for funding in the future.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] M23 troops Bunagana 4.jpg, Al Jazeera English, licensed under Public Domain

[2] Health post in Chief Chikwanda’s area set ablaze, Lusaka Times, March 2022,

[3] M23 Rebels Attack Military Positions in Eastern Congo, U. S. News, March 2022,

[4] Anxiety grips Juba as Kiir and Machar spar over security, The East African, March 2022,

[5] Ibid.



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