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.
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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

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 Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein 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 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.

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