News / Africa

Civilians Suffer in Crossfire of DRC Conflict

Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow, VOA)Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow, VOA)
x
Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow, VOA)
Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow, VOA)
Gabe Joselow
A humanitarian crisis is deepening in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as rebel soldiers hold their positions against Congolese military forces.  

The town of Sake, west of Goma, has been deserted since M23 rebels took control following a two-day battle with Congolese forces.

The shops have all closed, as rebel soldiers patrol the streets and take their positions in the hilltops above.

Tens of thousands of people fled the town in the past days, streaming toward Goma, clutching their belongings and complaining about a conflict they have nothing to do with.

Jean Musubato Kapitola, a local administrator, hangs around the M23 rebels, who are drinking beer by a shuttered restaurant on the north side of town.

“The M23 are here, everybody has to follow their rules, to live with them so they don't die.  So they cooperate with them but there is no work here," said Kapitola.

Kapitola says the town's residents all fled as the battle between M23 and the Congolese army, known as FARDC, began to heat up.  Several homes were damaged in the crossfire.  In one, an unexploded mortar was still jammed nose-down in the earth floor, after crashing through the wall.

Many of Sake's residents have ended up in displaced people's camps on the road toward Goma.

At the Mugunga camp, the floor of a church is lined with people's belongings.  Some of the newly displaced say they have no food or money, and have had to rely on the generosity of the camp's longer-term residents to survive.

Twenty-year-old Moses Muhindo Bahate says the people here think the fight for Sake is not yet over.

“Because we know if at night they will fight again.  They will fight again - the M23 and FARDC they will fight again, I think that," said Bahate.

Bahate says he would rather the government be in control of Sake instead of the rebels, and that he does not understand why they are fighting.

“I don't know, but we know that we want only the peace in East Africa, in east of DRC," he said.

The M23 rebellion is named for the date, March 23 2009, when a group of rebels signed a peace agreement to be integrated into the Congolese army.

  • M23 rebels guard weapons given to them by the government's army, Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • A Congo government policeman hands in his weapon to M23 rebels during an M23 rally in Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • Congo government policemen, foreground, and civilians gather during a M23 rally in Goma, Congo, November 21, 2012.
  • A M23 fighter, wearing a belt of ammunition, walks down a street in Goma, after the rebels captured the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.
  • People walk the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012. (VOA 100 Citoyens journalistes de RD Congo)
  • M23 rebels in the streets of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels enter Goma, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels celebrating their takeover of Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 spokesperson Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama entering Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 Rebels patrolling in Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
DRC Rebels Seize Goma
They defected this past April, becoming the rebel movement as it is known today, and have been taking over territory in eastern DRC since then, including the commercial hub of Goma.

The United Nations says the group is backed by Rwanda, a charge M23 and Rwanda deny.

M23 is reported to be entering talks with the governments of the DRC and Rwanda in the Ugandan capital Kampala.  A rebel spokesman in Goma, Amani Kabasha, says they are still asking that the government honor their peace deal.

“What we are asking the government of Kinshasa is to respect this agreement and we have been asking this since April.  Instead of accepting this, they just oppose us, fighting," said Kabasha.

M23 fighters have defeated Congolese forces in recent battles around Goma.  On Friday, the rebels displayed heavy weapons seized from the government troops, to show they have the fire power to keep fighting.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs