News / Africa

Civilian Casualties Rise in DRC Conflict

Refugee children, displaced by continued fighting in north Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, queue for food in the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, July 13, 2012.Refugee children, displaced by continued fighting in north Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, queue for food in the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, July 13, 2012.
x
Refugee children, displaced by continued fighting in north Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, queue for food in the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, July 13, 2012.
Refugee children, displaced by continued fighting in north Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, queue for food in the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, July 13, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Nick Long
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — Civilian casualties are growing in the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders. The charity has treated 66 wounded people, mostly civilians, since the weekend at a hospital in Rutshuru, in North Kivu province.

Doctors Without Borders, better known by its French acronym, MSF, has projects to support hospitals in several of the Kivu region’s war zones.

MSF head of mission in Kivu, Patrick Wieland, said that 90 percent
of the patients they have seen since the weekend at the Rutshuru hospital have been civilians.
 
"The majority of the civilians coming to the hospital are women and children from Rutshuru and the villages around, which is a change in comparison with what we were seeing before," said Wieland. "Since April, until last week, MSF projects in North and South Kivu were seeing mainly combatants and soldiers."

Intensifying violence

MSF also is seeing more severe injuries.

"Lots of them were wounded because of grenades, rockets and heavy machine guns, and this is a change, as well in comparison with what we received before. Now we have got people wounded because of grenades and not only bullets from Kalashnikovs, so the injuries are much more important," said Wieland.
 
Wieland said it is difficult to tell whether civilians have been deliberately targeted in the recent fighting. Normally, 10,000 to 20,000 people live in Rutshuru and neighboring Kiwanja, but previously they were able to escape fighting in the area or towns fell to the rebels without any resistance. This time the civilians were trapped in the crossfire.

The United Nations has condemned civilian deaths and other abuses committed in the Kivu region since April, when a mutiny broke out in the Congolese army. But observers previously blamed the worst human-rights violations on other armed groups, not on the M23 rebels or government soldiers.

Humanitarian workers at risk

Doctors Without Borders warns that its own ability to help war victims could be at risk, due to worsening security conditions. The head of mission says it may be difficult to keep Rutshuru hospital supplied.  
 
"An important aspect is the supply of Rutshuru hospital in terms of medications and medical personnel, because the way between Goma and Rutshuru is cut because of military operations, or because of banditry, and the MSF car was the victim of bandits about 10 days ago," said Wieland. "So we have to think about air routes or neighboring countries to bring supplies to Rutshuru hospital."
 
Wieland said it is important for all sides to respect what medical and other humanitarian workers are doing. If security is not guaranteed, he said, his group would have to consider reducing its operations or even withdrawing from certain places, as it has already withdrawn from another locality, Nandale, in North Kivu.

M23 on the move

Fighting between the M23 and government forces continued Tuesday, according to civil society sources. Omar Kavota, coordinator of a civil society group in North Kivu, said the M23 have pushed westward toward Masisi territory, where they may be able to retrieve caches of buried weapons.

M23 rebel fighters watch the venue of a news conference by political leader Jean-Marie Runiga, in Bunagana, eastern DRC, in north Kivu province, July 21, 2012.M23 rebel fighters watch the venue of a news conference by political leader Jean-Marie Runiga, in Bunagana, eastern DRC, in north Kivu province, July 21, 2012.
x
M23 rebel fighters watch the venue of a news conference by political leader Jean-Marie Runiga, in Bunagana, eastern DRC, in north Kivu province, July 21, 2012.
M23 rebel fighters watch the venue of a news conference by political leader Jean-Marie Runiga, in Bunagana, eastern DRC, in north Kivu province, July 21, 2012.
The M23’s advance units are believed to be at Kibumba, 27 kilometers from Goma. Those advance units have not tried so far a direct confrontation with the Congolese troops and U.N. peacekeepers barring the way to Goma.

But Kavota said the rebels may be trying to work their way around those forces. He said he was not confident the U.N. would stop the M23 if the Congolese army fails to put up a fight.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
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.
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.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid