DR Congo: Thousands Displaced as M23 Rebels Near Key City

Fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between army forces and M23 rebels has moved close to the key eastern city of Goma an army spokesperson said on Monday. Thousands have been displaced amid diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

DR Congo: Thousands Displaced as M23 Rebels Near Key City
Image credit: AP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between army forces and M23 rebels has moved close to the key eastern city of Goma an army spokesperson said on Monday. Thousands have been displaced amid diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.
  • The clashes have been among the heaviest since the government drove the M23 rebels into neighboring Rwanda in 2013. Many of the 188K people the UN says were most recently displaced are facing unsafe and unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps.
  • Fighting picked up on Friday after a week of relative calm since M23 began its most recent offensive in the province on Oct. 20, with battles breaking out around the villages of Kibumba — about 12 miles from the regional capital Goma — as well as Rugari and Tongo.
  • Meanwhile, 60K people are reportedly stranded in M23-controlled areas, with community leaders urging the creation of a humanitarian corridor to leave the area. In recent days, hundreds are estimated to have fled to the village of Kibati, about 15 km (9.3 miles) from Goma.
  • The M23 is said to be using drones for surveillance and the UN claims the rebels are using sophisticated weapons. More than 3K Congolese recruits began training this month following mobilization calls from DRC Pres. Felix Tshisekedi.
  • Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 group, which is primarily comprised of Congolese Tutsis. On Sunday, leaders of the East African Community (EAC) announced a "peace dialogue" on the region's conflicts; on Monday, the EAC mediator called on all parties involved to lay down their arms and engage in peace talks.

Sources: Rsn, Democracy Now, Reuters, Al Jazeera, and Rfi.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by DW. This is a fight between the DRC and Rwanda, not some rogue rebel group. Just as the international community has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it needs to condemn Rwanda's invasion of the Congo because of power and resources. The DRC is rich with the minerals necessary for the incoming global energy transition, and it's the Congolese people's right, not external forces, to control the future of their homeland.
  • Narrative B, as provided by PassBlue. While there is blame to go around, the DRC government's responsibilities shouldn't be forgotten. As the UN peacekeeping mission rolls back its involvement and the DRC conducts elections next year, either Pres. Tshisekedi or his potential successor needs to take charge of the country's east and build a political and military structure to ensure peace.