News / Africa

Goma Residents Hopeful Rebel Withdrawal Spells Peace in Eastern Congo

Girls, displaced by recent fighting between Congolese army and the M23 rebels, cover themselves from the cold in Munigi village near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo September 1, 2013.
Girls, displaced by recent fighting between Congolese army and the M23 rebels, cover themselves from the cold in Munigi village near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo September 1, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow
— Residents of Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, are optimistic that the withdrawal of M23 rebels from positions outside the city could bring an end to fighting in the area. The situation is still volatile, as tensions with neighboring Rwanda remain high.

Days after the shelling stopped, the Virunga market in Goma is starting to shuffle back to life.

It’s Sunday - a typically slow day - but many of the shops here are open. Women are folding colorful fabrics, and customers are walking through rows of used blue jeans hanging from wooden posts.

Serges Chivai, a shopkeeper on the edge of the market, is just packing away the flashlights and plastic toys displayed in his stall. He says business is going well, at least compared to the last week. “Last week the atmosphere was really bad,” he said, “because bombs were being dropped, people were running away, people were afraid, that’s why the work really could not go well.”

The merchants and customers here tell similar stories, of bomb blasts and panic for nearly two weeks, as the Congolese army and a U.N. intervention force battled M23 rebels on the outskirts of the city.

Artillery shells fell around Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, including one near the market.

On Friday, M23 announced it is withdrawing from areas just north of the city.

Delphine, an 18-year-old merchant hanging colorful cloth in the center of the market, says she hopes the withdrawal signals that the end of the fighting could be near." "We want the government to finish the war,” she says, “then we can get clients to buy our fabrics and we can live peacefully," she said.

Despite the rebels’ pullback, fighting continued Saturday deeper into M23-held territory, as the army has shown few signs of letting up.

The latest round of fighting also has disrupted Rwanda, after shells exploded across the border during fighting last week, killing at least one person.  The incident prompted angry accusations between the two countries, with both saying the missiles were launched from the other’s territory.

Rwanda, which has accused the U.N. mission in DRC (MONUSCO) of turning a blind eye to past cross-border bombings, has called the latest shelling into Rwandan territory a “provocation.”

The U.N. special representative who heads MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, met with Rwandan officials last week to try to ease tensions and to explain the role of the new U.N. intervention brigade, which lived up to its aggressive mandate to attack M23 positions.

In Goma Saturday, Kobler told reporters, “I made it very clear this is for the protection of the civilian population of Goma, this is the core of our mandate, this is what we’re here for, we could not have remained passive in this situation where M23 rockets hit the population of Goma and caused deaths.”

The U.N. has presented evidence of Rwandan military links to the M23, and the United States has called on Rwanda to cease its support for the rebels.  Kigali has repeatedly denied the accusations.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Oxen
September 01, 2013 9:30 PM
A large buffer zone should be put on the Rwanda and Uganda sides of border with active surveillance by drones to stop the regimes there from causing trouble supporting the rebels. Also the secutiry zone in DRC should include the entire East of DRC or Kivu and beyond where rebel menace must not be tolerated SADC/UN/DRC /AU need to keep up maximum pressure and stay serious & focussed because some war lords & Junta's want to keep profiting from DRC. DRC army should be re-trained paid well, and strict discipline enforced otherwise Kabarebe , Kagame's , Museveni and their buddies will keep confusing everyone,especially UN envoys, and causing trouble in region. The Kampala talks are mostly a waste of time because many of the architects of trouble reside there while others are in Kigali. Tanzania may be a better venue for talks.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
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 International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
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 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