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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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