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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid