AFRICA/DR CONGO - March 8: Women in Goma call for more security and an end to the scourge of kidnappings

Wednesday, 8 March 2023 armed groups   kidnappings   women  

Goma (Agenzia Fides) - "In addition to security, we demand the eradication of all "negative forces" and armed groups that collaborate with foreigners". "We demand more security and the closure of the communication network, which does not guarantee the safety of its customers and facilitates the obtaining of ransoms by the gangs of kidnappers". These are some of the slogans inscribed on the placards of the women who demonstrated today, March 8, in Goma, on the occasion of Women's Day.
The city, capital of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been living in tension for months, due to the approach of fighting between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels. Despite the ceasefire announced several times, fighting is reported about 30 km from Goma. A military source indicated in particular yesterday, March 7, that the town of Karuba (about 30 km west of Goma) fell into the hands of the rebels, while on the northern front, the M23 offensive continues, forcing the regular soldiers to retreat towards the town of Kanyabayonga.
A Burundian military contingent has arrived in Goma as part of the force deployed in eastern DRC by members of the East African Community (EAC). A military mission that leaves the local population skeptical, who fear that the soldiers of neighboring countries will pursue national interests instead of defending Congolese civilians. On the placards of the demonstrators,
there were also slogans calling for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to leave the EAC.
Also noteworthy is the protesters' insistence on the long-standing scourge of kidnappings, which have become a real industry in North Kivu. Civil rights movement Lucha has long insisted that kidnappers are using mobile phone networks to demand ransoms through mobile banking, but no telecommunications company appears to be able to geolocate the kidnappers and bring them to justice. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 8/3/2023)