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)
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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs