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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More