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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid