For a few cigarettes, a Congolese policeman will guide you around Dungu’s Belgian colonial-era chateau. UN peacekeepers maintain a small base on its grounds with scrawled graffiti and email addresses on the walls and crossbeams. Over nearly a decade, these men have partied with Ugandan beer inside—using its dark, cool rooms for other assignations.
Dungu’s colonial-era bridge is visible from the rear of the castle. The bridge is one of two in the town, providing traders with a crossing over the confluence of the Kibali and Uele Rivers.
Ferdinand, a radio operator with Invisible Children’s local partner Commission Diocésaine pour la Justice et la Paix, leads a training session at Invisible Children’s Dungu headquarters for volunteers who live around Garamba National Park. Poachers target elephants, giraffes, and other large game in the park, and Invisible Children recently began cooperating with rangers. The intelligence-sharing program helps park rangers target poachers—but it may also be placing Invisible Children’s volunteer operators at increased risk.
Without sufficient supplies and lacking significant oversight, FARDC soldiers routinely steal food and money from the villagers they are supposed to protect. Operators in Invisible Children’s early-warning network often report these predations. Listening to those radio transmissions requires knowing only the four-digit frequency, which means eavesdroppers—and potential reprisals—are a concern.
To reach Dungu by road means navigating RN4, locally known as the Dungu-Faradje Road or “Route Quatre.” Pockmarked by ditches and mud pools, the highway has long been a hotbed of LRA activity. The Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) maintains security checkpoints every few kilometers—usually just two or three Congolese soldiers who live in thatched huts and farm small vegetable plots to feed themselves.