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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs