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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid