AFRICA/CONGO DR - The M23 announces its withdrawal from Goma, but the humanitarian situation remains serious

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The rebels of the M23 announced that they agree to leave Goma, capital of North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo) they conquered last week. The rebels seem to have succumbed to international pressure and to the threat of a counter-offensive by the Congolese army.
The situation, however, remains uncertain, especially at a humanitarian level. According to the latest report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are 12 camps in Goma and surrounding areas that welcome 140,000 internally displaced persons. The conditions of these people are poor and in a state of insecurity. In the Don Bosco Center, one of the 12 camps, the number of displaced persons has reached its limit. Another structure, that of Kanyaruchinya, which welcomed 60,000 people has been evacuated as a result of the fighting in recent days between the Congolese army (FARDC) and the M23.
On November 25, new displacements were reported in Lushebere, in the Masisi territory, as a result of clashes between the FARDC and the Mai-Mai group (a name that identifies a series of self-defense groups many of which have degenerated in forms of guerrilla and banditry). Violence against civilians are reported, including looting of homes and shops. Assistance activities still continue: food distribution, installation of three generators to allow the function of the pumps for drinking water (in order to prevent the spread of cholera), start of a program of medical and psychological assistance to victims of sexual violence. However, a concern for unexploded ordnance remains, which represent a serious threat to the civilian population and humanitarian workers themselves. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 27/11/2012)