Just over a month ago, our LRA Crisis Tracker reported a violent attack on three fishermen in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Behind every security incident we document are real people, with families and stories and hopes for peace in their country. This one was no different, and we wanted you to know the story behind the report.
In early January, Daniel*, a 20-year-old Congolese man, went fishing with his father and brother along a river near their home. After arriving at the river and beginning their work for the day, the three fishermen were ambushed by a group of seven armed men who had been poaching elephants in DRC’s Garamba National Park.
The armed men forced Daniel, his father, and brother at gunpoint to give them all of their belongings, including the fish they just caught, before forcing them to carry heavy ivory tusks deep into the bush. After a day of walking, the three hostages were lined up by their captors and shot. While his father was killed instantly, Daniel and his brother survived the gunshots. However, when the armed men saw that Daniel’s brother was still breathing, they shot him again and killed him. Daniel pretended to be dead, remarkably avoiding the same fate as his brother, and the armed men soon left.
Despite a gunshot wound to the chest, Daniel miraculously survived through the night and, in the morning, managed to walk to a nearby road. A local nurse found him on the roadside and brought him to a nearby town where he was able to receive very basic medical care. It became clear very quickly that Daniel needed to be taken to a hospital in a larger town in order to survive, but he was in a highly remote area with no access to emergency transportation.
Fortunately, the community where Daniel was being cared for is part of the Invisible Children Early Warning Radio Network. The local HF radio operator used the network to immediately call our DRC team based in Dungu, DRC. He informed our team of the attack and Daniel’s need for an immediate evacuation and medical attention.
In a matter of minutes, our team reached out to protection and humanitarian actors in the region, including our friends at Garamba National Park, requesting emergency assistance to get Daniel to the nearest medical facility equipped to help him. Without hesitation, the team at Garamba stepped in, sending their own plane and doctor retrieve Daniel and fly him to the hospital in Dungu, where he received the treatment he needed.
The following day, we received word that Daniel’s health was improving and, thanks to the courageous and rapid action of local community members, our Early Warning team, and the staff at Garamba — not to mention Daniel’s own incredible courage and strength — he will heal and survive. Without the dedication and collaboration of so many, Daniel might not have survived, and the attack that took the life of his father and brother would likely have gone unknown by neaby towns and the broader international community.
Through the Early Warning Radio Network, remote communities in areas of DRC and CAR are able to each other of danger and call for emergency assistance — the kind of assistance that helped save Daniel’s life. Furthermore, reports shared through the Early Warning Network are thoroughly vetted and documented through our LRA Crisis Tracker, providing on-the-ground practitioners (from humanitarian organizations to protection actors like the UN) and policymakers with rapid, quality information from some of the most remote corners of central Africa. Our team then analyzes this information, so that our advocacy team can provide policymakers with a bird’s-eye view of the security situation in the region and push for effective action that can help improve the protection of civilians from violence.
As we celebrate Daniel’s recovery — and the efforts so many people who made it possible — we also remember Daniel’s father and brother who he lost in the process. Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand that Daniel’s courage and determination to survive are not uncommon among communities in central Africa. Tragically, neither is terrible loss he has
For Daniel, and for the thousands of others targeted by violent armed groups in central Africa, we will continue expanding life-saving programs like our Early Warning Radio Network, and we will continue collaborating with brave local communities, organizations, and policymakers for a safe and thriving central Africa. Our liberty is bound together.
*Daniel’s name has been changed to protect his identity.