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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More