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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid