News / Africa

Fighting in Congo Displaces 100,000 Civilians

What began as dispute over local fishing rights is now humanitarian crisis for government in Brazzaville, security concern for government in Kinshasa.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Fighting in western provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced more than 100,000 people.  Some are seeking refuge across the border in Congo-Brazzaville where relief officials say they have only enough supplies to feed one-third of the refugees.

Nearly 15,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo live in the Congolese Republic town of Betou along the Oubangui River that separates the countries.

Immigration officer Jean Zoda says he and his family were caught in the crossfire between government troops and ethnic Enyele militiamen who have been fighting across parts of the Dongo region for the past four months.

Zoda says the rebels attacked about seven kilometers from their village, so he and his family fled the following morning.  They took all their possessions to the river, but then soldiers arrived and started attacking, so they dropped everything and fled into the forest.  He says they stayed in the forest until midnight before they found a boat to cross the river.  Zola says they left everything behind.

Relief officials say refugees are spread across more than 80 sites along 500 kilometers of the river.  And there has been little humanitarian assistance, with only about one-third of the refugees receiving food rations during the past four months.

Refugee Micheline Alemba used to work as a cook in Dongo. She says her family has been hungry since they arrived in the Congo Republic.  There are so many people here, she says they can not find anything to eat.  They go into the forest to look for food, but Alemba says there is not much.

"One-hundred-thousand people is really quite a large number of people and the situation is really bad, but of course in times when there are 200,000 dead people in Haiti and looming wars elsewhere and a volcano erupting, there is certain competition between victims, which is unfortunate, which we do not want to foster, but which is a reality of our work and we have to respond to that," explained Corinna Kreidler, who works with the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office.

What began as a dispute over local fishing rights is now a humanitarian crisis for the government in Brazzaville and a security concern for the government in Kinshasa.

Earlier this month, Enyele militiamen launched their boldest attack, landing boats in the capital of Equateur Province and briefly taking control of the governor's office and the airport in Mbandaka.

They were eventually driven back in a joint counter-attack by government troops and U.N. peacekeepers.  But the speed with which this rebellion has grown has renewed concerns about the strength of Kinshasa's army with U.N. peacekeepers set to begin withdrawing from western areas in June.

Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende says government troops are slowly regaining the ability to take responsibility for defending their own country and will be ready by the time U.N. troops complete their gradual withdrawal next year.

The head of Congo's peacekeeping force, Alan Doss, told the Security Council that discipline in the government army is likely to remain a constant concern so long as, what he calls, structural problems in the military remain unresolved.  Doss says there are persistent delays in the payment of salaries and low levels of training for many troops, especially those who have been integrated from various armed groups.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid