News / Africa

M23 Rebels Urged to Protect Civilians

People on the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012.  (VOA/ 100 Citoyens Journalistes de RD Congo)
People on the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012. (VOA/ 100 Citoyens Journalistes de RD Congo)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Humanitarian agencies in the eastern DRC are scrambling to locate displaced civilians and provide assistance following the M23 rebel group’s takeover of Goma. For years, the town has been the center of aid operations, but many programs have been suspended or disrupted.


John Abuya is in charge of ActionAid’s emergency preparedness and response. He said M23 rebels have addressed civilians in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu Province.

“According to our teams on the ground, the M23 is assuring the citizens and populations to stay calm – that they are there to protect them and that all business should run as normal,” he said.

The question remains whether the rebels will remain in Goma or try to extend their reach into neighboring South Kivu province.

“There’s speculation that the M23 would be closing in on or try to expand their hold on neighboring towns, especially the provincial capital of Bukavu,” said Abuya.

Some of the U.N. peacekeeping troops are reported in Bukavu.

ActionAid has programs addressing violence against women and poverty. Many thousands of women have been raped by the numerous armed groups that have operated in the eastern DRC. Rape has been used as a weapon of war to terrorize and subdue the population.

Abuya said, “Before this latest outbreak, there were quite a lot of reports of violence against women, especially rape. So, most of the women communities that we work with are afraid even to go out to fetch firewood in the forest and water. So there are such incidences.”

Some groups allege that M23 rebels have also been involved in violence against women.

“We are calling upon them to protect the lives of civilians. We are calling for humanitarian workers to gain access to the affected population. And we are calling upon them to protect the human rights of civilians in those areas,” he said.

ActionAid’s Abuya said women’s groups in neighboring countries are meeting to determine how to best show support for Congolese women. 

VOA also reached UNICEF’S head of office in Goma, Jean Metenier.  Over a poor phone connection he said there’s concern over the sanitation situation because there’s no water or electricity service. There are also some cholera cases in Goma.

He said UNICEF is assisting about 150 unaccompanied children at the Don Bosco Catholic Center. However, there may be many more unaccompanied children among the thousands of people displaced by the fighting. The agency is also taking a survey to determine whether some of the displaced have found shelter with host families in the area.

Metenier said while UNICEF has some supplies in Goma, it needs more to help the displaced and deal with the cholera cases.

Oxfam International has issued a statement saying, “This new catastrophe must be the final wake up call for the United Nations, the African Union, regional institutions and governments to move to action.” It adds,” With almost 2.5 million people now displaced across eastern Congo, this catastrophe needs the humanitarian and diplomatic response to be urgently stepped up.”

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid