DRC forces struggle to maintain order

DRC forces struggle to maintain order

Thomas Owens, Staff

Thousands of people have been displaced in the volatile eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as fighting between the army and M23 rebels moved close to the key city of Goma, Clashes picked up again in North Kivu province on Friday, ending about a week of relative calm since the group launched their latest offensive on the 20th of October. “Battles have broken out around the villages of Kibumba, Rugari and Tongo,” North-Kivu army spokesman Guillaume Ndjike said on Monday. Kibumba is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Goma, which the M23 briefly overran back in 2012 when the initial insurrection started “They are attacking but we are containing them and taking initiatives to push them back,”  

Hundreds have fled to Kibati in recent days and Kibati has set up three camps for internally displaced people over the past month. Some have taken refuge in houses already abandoned by residents moving further south, according to a Reuters reporter.  

“I left my wife and children behind, I didn’t even take clothes,” said Ndazimana Kasigwa, aged 25, who came from Rugari. 

At least 188,000 have been displaced in North Kivu since October 20, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands have fled fresh fighting that has caused a diplomatic rift between the DRC and Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing the Tutsi-led group. Rwanda denies any involvement. 

Rights groups and military sources have said the M23 is using drone surveillance and the UN has said the group is using sophisticated weaponry and available evidence points to it being backed by Rwanda. 

The M23 has also said the Congolese army is fighting alongside other armed groups, a charge that military authorities deny.