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.
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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs