News / Africa

DRC Army and UN Peacekeepers Try to Help Displaced Persons

Girls, displaced by recent fighting between Congolese army and the M23 rebels, cover themselves from the cold in Munigi village near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 1, 2013.
Girls, displaced by recent fighting between Congolese army and the M23 rebels, cover themselves from the cold in Munigi village near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 1, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the national army and United Nations peacekeepers are working to combat dozens of armed groups that have terrorized local populations. In North Kivu province alone, 1 million people - one-sixth of the entire population - has been displaced by violence. While combat rages, civilians are also fighting a daily battle of their own – the battle to survive.
At the Mugunga 3 camp for internally displaced persons, a few kilometers outside of Goma, more than 16,000 people have sought refuge from clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels.
Baraka Weja Marcel, a refugee in the camp, fled his home in Kibumba, about 20 kilometers from Goma, nearly two years ago. He claims the town is still occupied by the armed group.
Marcel says peace is needed so he and people like him can go back to their villages. He says life is very difficult in the camp, where he and six of his relatives live together. Their only shelter is a tent a few meters long and wide, fashioned from plastic sheeting. Inside, there is a yellow jug for water, some pots and an old, rusting bicycle. He says that when it rains, the shelter leaks. His situation is not unusual.
The World Food Program and other partner agencies help the displaced with food, clean water, sanitation and other basic needs, but their existence is nonetheless grim. Even in the camp, they are not entirely safe from the threat of armed groups.
In the eastern Congo, the United Nations has a force of 20,000 police and troops, known as MONUSCO. They protect civilians and support the Congolese army as it builds its capacity and works to take on about 39 different rebel groups which have been attracted to the region by its wealth of natural resources and lack of government control.
In addition, MONUSCO has been beefed up with an experimental offensive force called an Intervention Brigade. It will soon number 3,000 troops; the last contingent is scheduled to arrive this week. Next month, it will become the first U.N. peacekeeping mission to get an unarmed drone to help track rebels.
Ray Torres, who heads the U.N. mission's Goma office, said recent successful operations against the M23 have led to an increase in the number of fighters defecting from its ranks and the ranks of other armed groups. They also are now more willing to consider peace initiatives.
But as small gains are made, large threats still remain. Torres says that in North Kivu, the M23 and the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu group, are the biggest security threats. He also notes the growing emergence of a third group, the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, which operates along the Congo-Uganda border.
“[The ADF] is establishing and strengthening its position in the north of the country. It is very strongly ideologically based. It is an extremist Islamist group that is developing a network of businesses that indicates to us that they are planning to stay. And it seems lately, according to the latest information, that they may be planning operations against FARDC [the Congolese army],” said Torres.
A delegation from the U.N. Security Council visited the area Sunday. Civil society representatives told the ambassadors they want more action on ending the recruitment of child soldiers and on protecting women from sexual violence.
They said the state must extend its control over the whole country, noting that in 75 percent of the territory in North Kivu is in the hands of different armed groups. They also demanded that perpetrators be punished and recommended the council authorize a specialized court for serious human rights violations in Congo.
Baraka Weja Marcel said he hopes the national army and MONUSCO will be strong enough to chase all the armed groups away, so that peace can come and he and all the other displaced persons can return home.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs