News / Africa

    Eastern Congo: Fear of Another Christmas Massacre Spreads

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    Nearly 20 humanitarian organizations are calling on the U.N. and international community to prevent another Christmas massacre in the eastern DRC.

    They released a new report Tuesday called Ghosts of Christmas Past, which details attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  The LRA, originally based in Uganda, has a long history of child abductions, rapes and killings.

    Marcel Stoessel, head of Oxfam in the DRC, is in the town of Niangara in Orientale Province in northeast Congo, near the Sudan border.  “The Lord’s Resistance Army, the LRA, is the most brutal rebel force in Africa,” he says. “They have killed a thousand people in the last year alone.  And there were these horrendous Christmas massacres both in 2008 and 2009.”

    In 2008, over a three-week period, the groups say 865 women, men and children were beaten to death and hundreds more were abducted.  In 2009, more than 300 people were killed around Christmastime.

    Feeling abandoned

    Niangara, he says, is in the heart of LRA territory.

    “The people are afraid.  The people are telling us that they are worried that such a thing could happen again to them. There are brutal attacks.  There are rapes still happening.  As recently as last Friday, two kilometers from where I am right now, there was an incursion by the LRA and they looted some food.”

    The LRA attacks are also affecting humanitarian operations in the Eastern DRC, making it difficult to access many areas.

    In eastern DRC, a victim of an LRA attack
    In eastern DRC, a victim of an LRA attack

    Stoessel says, “In short, the people are telling us we really feel not protected.  We don’t feel that anybody is thinking about us….  We don’t feel that the Congolese army or the U.N. peacekeepers or anybody else, for that matter, is concerned about our fate.”

    There are some troops in the Niangara area.  “We see Congolese army troops patrolling,” says Stoessel.  “As far as the U.N. troops are concerned, very frequently we see them only on the road.  And the communities are telling us they would wish they would get out of their vehicles and be more close to the population because this is a very remote area and along the main roads is not necessarily where the protection is most needed.”

    He says the U.N. mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, is the biggest in the world.  But he adds, “There are only a little more than 600 troops here out of the 18,000 troops in country.  So, it’s very, very disappointing.  At the same time, it’s the responsibility of the Congolese government to protect their citizens and we should not forget that.”

    Desperate rebels

    The LRA is no longer one fighting force.  In recent years, it’s split into many smaller groups that have terrorized the region.

    “They are quite desperate,” Stoessel says.  “This is the time of the year where the main river here is quite low, so they have easier access to the towns like Niangara, where I am now.  And also, it’s the time of harvest.  So the population generally is quite hungry at this time.  It’s the same for those LRA units of small groups that are roaming around the bush.  It’s very, very unpredictable where they will strike next and that’s why people are so afraid.”

    What can be done?

    “The international community must renew its attention to this forgotten crisis here in Central Africa in the northeast of Congo.  And the regional governments in Sudan, in Uganda, in Central African Republic and here in the DRC…must get together to combine their forces and find a solution for this horrendous problem of the LRA,” he says.

    The humanitarian groups are making an urgent appeal to U.N. forces in the DRC to make northeastern Congo a priority and “to prevent another Christmas massacre.”

    The LRA has also launched attacks in Sudan and the CAR.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora