News / Africa

UNHCR: DRC Civilians at Risk

Men investigate the remains of a house struck hours earlier by deadly mortar fire, sparking angry protestors to take to the streets, in Goma, DRC, Aug. 24, 2013.
Men investigate the remains of a house struck hours earlier by deadly mortar fire, sparking angry protestors to take to the streets, in Goma, DRC, Aug. 24, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
U.N. agencies say civilians have been victims of the latest violence in the eastern DRC. Fighting between government forces and two rebel groups -- as well as local, ethnic violence -- is also causing more displacement.


Heavy fighting last weekend between the Congolese army and M23 rebels resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. But the fighting near the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma also put civilians in the line of fire. 

“At least three people were killed, five others wounded, on Saturday morning when a shell landed in Ndosho. That’s a suburb of Goma. And Goma at the moment is apparently packed with civilians because more than 150,000 people have been displaced towards and around the city since the fighting started in 2012,” said Daniel MacIsaac, spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

Others at a nearby displacement camp were also at risk.

“Another shell fell Saturday near the Mugunga 3 camp. And that shelters 14,000 internally displaced people. -- Congolese that had to flee their homes because of fighting.  Meanwhile, two days before this, on Thursday, again we’ve got reports numerous shells landed in a residential area of Goma killing at least four people and wounding 15. And all of those were civilians, too,” he said.

UNHCR and other agencies are warning warring parties that indiscriminate or deliberate attacks against civilians are war crimes.

The Goma area is not the only conflict zone in the eastern Congo.  Further north, the Congolese army is fighting the Ugandan rebel group ADF, or Allied Democratic Forces.  About 50,000 people fled the area in mid-July and crossed the border into western Uganda. The UNHCR has set-up a transit center at Bubukwanga. It has a capacity to handle up to 12,000 people. The problem is there are as many as 20,000 refugees there.

“So it’s been a strain on the local communities. People were staying in schools for a while – the refugees on school grounds,” said MacIsaac.

The U.N. agency has so far transferred about 3,000 of the DRC refugees to the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement further from the border.

“One of the many good things about Uganda hosting so many refugees is that they don’t necessarily just live in camps there, like you envision a refugee camp with tents. They actually are quite open and have freedom of movement in Uganda and they have refugee settlements. They don’t look so different from a typical rural village in Uganda,” he said.

Besides the two current conflict zones in North Kivu Province, there’s also been a flare-up of local disputes over land and other issues in the Ruzizi Plain. That’s on the border of South Kivu Province and Burundi.

MacIsaac said, “Over the last 12 days or so, we’re seeing 1,500 Congolese asylum seekers fleeing into their neighboring country, in this case, Burundi. This is more low-level ethnic fighting. And what they’re telling us, the people who are coming across, was that unidentified armed people killed about eight people and seriously wounded many more and again in the last two weeks.”

The UNHCR said that the asylum seekers are staying temporarily at the Cishemere Transit Center in Burundi’s western province of Cibitoke. Some have been transferred to a refugee camp.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid