News / Africa

DRC Rebels Looting Before Goma Withdrawal

People displaced by recent fighting in eastern Congo wait to receive aid food in Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012.People displaced by recent fighting in eastern Congo wait to receive aid food in Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012.
x
People displaced by recent fighting in eastern Congo wait to receive aid food in Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012.
People displaced by recent fighting in eastern Congo wait to receive aid food in Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
Residents of the town of Sake in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo say M23 rebel soldiers have been looting homes and extorting money from businesses as they prepare to withdraw from the area.  

On a side street in the town of Sake, out of sight from the M23 soldiers guarding the checkpoint out of town, a group of residents complain about roving gangs of rebels who ransacked the town overnight.

One resident, who declined to give his name, points to two shattered window panes on his home, which he says the soldiers broke with their rifles as his family was eating dinner.

“They entered in our house at one in the morning,” he says.  “They took our money, the mattress, a telephone.  They looted everything.  In the morning, we couldn't find them.”

At the main intersection in town, truck drivers stand idly by their vehicles.  They say the rebels have demanded they pay $320 to leave town, and they cannot go anywhere until they get the money.

An outdoor market is nearly deserted as shopkeepers say M23 is extorting money from them as well.  Emmanuel sells soap, candy and a few other small items at one of the few open stalls, but does not think he will make enough to pay the rebels off.

“Now they come and ask us to pay $50 for the small things we are selling,” he says.  “Where are we going to find this money?  It's better to take all of our items because we do not have this money.”

The rebels seized control of the town last week after heavy fighting with the Congolese armed forces.

But now, as part of an agreement reached between the M23 and the Congolese government, the rebels are preparing to pull out of Sake and the nearby city of Goma.

Rebels were seen moving equipment in and around Goma, though the actual retreat is expected to take place Friday.

Congolese forces, known as FARDC, are set to take back control of Sake and Goma after the rebel withdraw, which could bring more problems.

Congolese soldiers also looted Sake on their retreat from the town, and abuses have also been reported in Minova where the army has been consolidating.

A Sake resident who gave his name as Amani says he will still welcome FARDC's return to the city.

“Yes, it's better because we have already lived with them.  But (M23), they always come here to intimidate us, they take everything and tell us what to do, they treat us like slaves,” said Amani.

A recent report from the aid group Oxfam describes an unprecedented level of financial exploitation of communities caught up in the recent conflict in eastern Congo.

Oxfam says civilians are increasingly becoming “commodities of war,” fought over by armed groups, including the army, as a way to raise money.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs