News / Africa

Tens of Thousands Flee M23 Fighting Near Goma

Displaced families flee renewed fighting between the Congolese Revolutionary Army (CRA) and Congolese army in Mugunga, near Goma, November 22, 2012.
Displaced families flee renewed fighting between the Congolese Revolutionary Army (CRA) and Congolese army in Mugunga, near Goma, November 22, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
Tens of thousands of people fled fighting Thursday near the town of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

As fighting raged in the hills above the town of Sake, west of Goma, its residents hit the road.

Mothers carried their children, others pushed bicycles, held mattresses, or pulled goats behind them. More than a few shook their machetes at a group of foreign journalists observing the exodus from the side of the road.

DRC M23 Rebels:

  • M23 fighters were once loyal to a rebel army that assimilated into the national army of Congo in a 2009 peace deal
  • Hundreds of former rebel army members mutinied earlier this year, complaining that the government had not fulfilled promises of better pay and weapons
  • From the mutineers, the M23 - named for the March 23, 2009 peace deal - emerged
  • A U.N. report said there are indications the rebels are getting outside aid. U.N. experts say Rwanda and Uganda are backing M23. Both Countries deny this
  • The U.N. Security Council is considering sanctions on M23 leaders and has demanded an end to "all outside support" of the group
  • Experts say a driving force behind the regional conflict are deposits of tin, gold, tungsten, and coltan, a mineral used in laptops and mobile phones in eastern Congo, where M23 operates
Soldiers from the rebel group M23 claimed to have taken control of Sake a day earlier, their most recent conquest in a campaign to seize territory in eastern Congo, including the commercial hub of Goma.

But, according to residents fleeing Sake, the rebels have started to face resistance from other rebel groups operating in the area.

This woman, who declined to give her name, blamed the Congolese army for failing to protect the town.

“This morning we just saw the M23 occupy the nearby hill,” she said.  “Right now they have started fighting with the militia group. The government troops are not here, because they have run away.”

M23 sent reinforcements to Sake on Thursday. Civilians from the area said the rebels had retreated somewhat from the town by late afternoon.

The rebel group seized control of Goma on Monday, after pushing back Congolese army units who were supported by United Nations peacekeepers.  

While Goma has been mostly peaceful since the rebel takeover, tensions are still high.

Photo Gallery: Rebels in Goma

  • M23 rebels guard weapons given to them by the government's army, Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • A Congo government policeman hands in his weapon to M23 rebels during an M23 rally in Goma, DRC, November 21, 2012.
  • Congo government policemen, foreground, and civilians gather during a M23 rally in Goma, Congo, November 21, 2012.
  • A M23 fighter, wearing a belt of ammunition, walks down a street in Goma, after the rebels captured the city from the government army, November 20, 2012.
  • People walk the streets of Goma, DRC during a lull in the fighting, November 20, 2012. (VOA 100 Citoyens journalistes de RD Congo)
  • M23 rebels in the streets of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels enter Goma, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 rebels celebrating their takeover of Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 spokesperson Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama entering Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
  • M23 Rebels patrolling in Goma, DRC, November 20, 2012. (A. Malivika/VOA)
In a statement Thursday, the aid group Oxfam warned of the “very real risk” of state collapse in eastern Congo that could push the humanitarian crisis to “new depths.”

The fighting around Goma has displaced at least 60,000 people on top of hundreds of thousands already displaced by chronic violence perpetrated by armed groups in the region.

Meantime, the residents of the area are waiting to see M23's next move. The rebels have vowed to press on south around Lake Kivu to the town of Bukavu.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid