Democratic Republic of the Congo: War at the Gates of Goma

Correspondence in Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

The capital of North Kivu province in eastern DRC appears peaceful this Sunday, December 4. As usual, the people of Goma go to church or temple for worship on Sunday and we are going to take advantage of the good weather to go for a walk on the shores of Lake Kivu. But the war is very close, about twenty kilometers north of the city.

Militias from the M23 group (a rebel militia backed by neighboring Rwanda) are still barely contained by what people call the “Kibumba Barrier”. This is where the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the national army and a Kenyan contingent arriving as reinforcements were able to block the advance of the EAC (Community of East African States) forces. occupation.

Continuing a few kilometers on the northern road outside the airport, it doesn’t take long to find the refugee and displaced camps that have continued to expand since the start of the M23 offensive last March. The apocalyptic and tragic sight of tens of thousands of makeshift tents, most of them plastic, crammed together on the black soil around the Nyiragongo volcano dominates this sad scene.

More than 300 thousand refugees

According to recent reports, according to the UN and humanitarian organizations working here, there are more than 300,000 people fleeing war and massacres. The last incident happened on November 29 in Kishishe, Rutshuru area, 70 km north of Goma. There are various figures that can reach 130 dead in the balance. The situations described by the survivors are terrible: “When M23 soldiers attacked the village, people took refuge in the church, but it did not save them. The rebels killed the men and took out the women, some of whom were kidnapped. At least three children were killed, it was a massacre. We dug a hole and threw the bodies there.. The President of the Republic, Felix Tshisekedi, has asked for domestic and international investigations to determine whether this attack was an attack. a war crime “.

In the village of Bambo, located a few kilometers away, there were also clashes between M23 and local self-defense groups. Here again, the results are uncertain, but the fear has led to a new influx of refugees, who pile up endlessly in uncertainty and mud with the onset of the rainy season. A three-day national mourning was declared from 1er December Civil society organizations, the powerful Congolese National Episcopal Confederation of Churches (CENCO) and prominent figures as far-reaching as 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege have called for protest marches against this war. They were followed en masse everywhere, except in Goma, where the authorities feared infiltration of subversives from nearby Rwanda. The border is less than a kilometer from the city center, and certain social networks create a psychosis of “an infiltrating enemy spying on you”.

Rwanda was selected behind the M23

In this regard, Congolese President Felix Tshishekedi spoke extremely harshly against his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, on Sunday evening. A speech widely broadcast and listened to by many families and listened to on mobile phones everywhere.“Here it is The Rwandan regime led by President Paul Kagame remains our enemy. Not the Rwandans who are our brothers. We must stop wars in Africa and help ourselves to do so and save Africa from these backward leaders who pride themselves on being experts in war when they should be ashamed of sowing death. This is a shame and even satanic! ยป– said Felix Tshisekedi.

A call for general mobilization to defend the country, launched a few days ago by the DRC government, was also heard. Young people presented themselves in thousands to enlist in the army, and this across the country. An influx also to the Kivu region, which has been affected by recurring armed attacks for more than a quarter of a century, with the Rwandan regime always pulling the strings, as President Tshisekedi has recalled. President Kagame angrily defends himself, claiming he had nothing to do with the revival of M23, which was defeated in 2013 and re-emerged in October 2021. Despite these denials, everything seems clear. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres himself acknowledged the existence of M23 in October “(Monusco) has more firepower than UN forces in Congo” . “These weapons come from somewhere” he added. Officers from Monusco, which has had a 17,000-strong presence in Congo for 20 years, have themselves repeatedly pointed to neighboring Rwanda.

A thesis strongly defended by Dr. Denis Mukwege, whom we met at his hospital in Panzi, near Bukavu. “This war, which has been going on for more than twenty-five years, is an economic war. It is well known that Rwanda is pulling the strings to capture the abundant mineral wealth in the Kivu basement.Mukwege regrets . It is the deadliest conflict, killing millions and displacing five million. The number of abused women is in thousands and the misery is indescribable. Sadly forgotten by the rest of the world, the dead no longer count in this conflict. The current situation is extremely worrying because the tension has increased and people have started using dangerous words and expressions of hatred. And in this area, Kagame does the most damage. .

How will this conflict develop? Nobody knows. It is getting worse day by day as they await the fate of the unfortunates gathered in temporary camps. We have the impression of seeing the excruciating scenes of Thierry Michel’s film live.The empire of silencemore precisely, it was devoted to the endless wars of the Congo.

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