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

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs