News / Africa

    M23 Rebels in DRC Say They Can Hit Goma Airport

    M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
    x
    M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
    M23 rebels near Goma, DRC (2013 photo)
    Nick Long
    The rebel group M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo has repeated its call for a ceasefire after last week’s fighting outside the city of Goma.  The rebels have also warned that in their current position they can easily target Goma airport.

    It is still not clear who started the fighting last week a few kilometers north of Goma or how it started.

    Congo's government says M23 launched an attack, while M23 says their men were fetching water and ran into some government allies and a firefight broke out and escalated.

    What is clear is that the M23 now commands a highly strategic position north of Goma, a hill with a clear view of the airport runway lined up in their artillery’s sights.

    On Tuesday, M23 spokesman Rene Abandi showed journalists the view from the hill at Mutaho.

    "I was just showing how we are dominating the international airport of Goma.  We also are in some sense protecting the airport because our soldiers are disciplined and there is nothing that can happen.  If we are seeking a ceasefire it is not because we are weak, it is because we need peace," Abandi said.

    Several houses at Mutaho have been damaged or destroyed by shellfire.  Spent cartridges are another sign there was fighting here recently, as both the government and rebels have stated.

    Meanwhile, the civil society association of North Kivu province says neighboring Rwanda sent four battalions into Congo last week.  It says one of those battalions fought at Mutaho, and a Rwandan lieutenant colonel was killed there and buried in Kigali a few days ago.

    Rwanda has previously denied supporting M23, and the M23's Abandi dismisses the allegation as government propaganda.

    "It’s very ridiculous.  A Rwandan colonel died here and was buried in Kigali.  You see it’s like saying, for example, people who are fighting for us came from Mars.  How can I reply?  We would like to know -- that commander was commanding which battalion, when, when it came, and when it came back.  And only a colonel died, can you imagine?  When a battalion or a brigade is fighting and only a colonel dies?," Abandi said.

    The civil society group has given what it says are the battalions’ numbers, and a date when it says they went back.  

    For its part, the M23 accuses the government side of relying on Rwandan rebels for support.  Abandi said the Congo-based Rwandan rebel group FDLR was fighting alongside government troops at Mutaho.

    The United Nations is currently deploying a so-called intervention brigade of more than 3,000 African troops with a mandate to carry out targeted attacks on armed groups in eastern Congo.

    Abandi said if the brigade attacks M23, it will be very difficult for the rebels to distinguish between the brigade and the 17,000 peacekeepers who are part of the U.N. mission in Congo, MONUSCO.  Those peacekeepers are mostly deployed to protect civilians at displaced peoples’ camps and elsewhere.   

    "It’s a very complicated situation for us.  Blue helmets who come with an offensive mandate while others are deployed in the same areas with a peacekeepers' mandate.  So it’s very difficult for us and actually they have really to separate areas so that we can make the distinction," Abandi said.

    Fourteen aid organizations that are active in eastern Congo raised the same issue this week in a joint letter to Mary Robinson, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy to the Great Lakes region.  

    "The issue of how the brigade is related to the rest of the mission and how independent humanitarian actors such as NGOs relate to MONUSCO is I think a very big issue. We have to preserve independent humanitarian access," said Frances Charles, spokesperson for the non-governmental organization World Vision in eastern DRC.

    The NGOs are also calling on the U.N. not to let the intervention brigade be seen as the sole solution to the eastern DRC’s crisis, or allow it to detract from what they describe as the need for the government to reform the Congolese army and improve governance.

    You May Like

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Laz from: cote d'Ivoire
    May 29, 2013 12:09 PM
    I have the impression that DRC war is an everlasting one.M23 what do you want?

    by: Nason Simango from: Rustenburg
    May 29, 2013 7:11 AM
    The war in DRC will not end by a military means only negotiations

    by: Daniel from: East Africa
    May 29, 2013 4:59 AM
    M23 families are in exile, actually i camps escaping FARDC killings and rape and others in prison. There is a lot of poor governance and poverty in DRC that leads to all above. 50 men of the former CNDP who turned to be M23 were killed in one day when they were still in the FARDC and DRC government is responsible, then what should the world expect.

    Greedy are the countries taking the cover of UN to fight for their own selfish interests, now every one knows that Zuma is after the oil in DRC, France has Uranium Interests in the area ...and you dare condemn M23. If the DRC government doesn't want to go back to talks and solve their grievances, they will have to fight with whoever stands in their way to get what they deserve.


    by: Oxen from: Mars
    May 28, 2013 4:24 PM
    Then the fast task of the brigade can be to take over that so called strategic point from these rebels. The rebels need to dis-arm. If UN is not serious about that, the turmoil will continue, The rebels are greedy , just like their masters. The regimes supporting them are entrenched and have not genuine democracy, so DRC need to be realistic, have a strong well trained army to expel the invaders and overcome this rebel nuisance. The leaders like Makenga and others are the problem, not the child solideirs and others forcefully recruited.

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.