Conflict, hunger and oppression – the situation of people in Congo is getting worse and worse. And the world looks the other way, criticizing the activists.
Rebecca Kabugho is in a hurry. He collected new clothes from his friends, some gave him money. Kabugho searches for a roadside motorcycle taxi in Goma, eastern Congo. She wants to go to the country, she. To people fleeing clashes between the army and the M23 militia.
Kabugho is part of the “Goma activ” citizens’ movement. The group brings porridge to the camps for the children, they sing and dance with them to get them thinking differently.
Conflict between militias and government escalates
According to the United Nations, more than 262,000 people have been displaced in Congo since the conflict escalated again in March.
It gets cold in the camps at night. Some die of exhaustion, women give birth by the roadside without assistance.
According to an internal UN report and the Congolese government, the M23 militia is backed by Rwanda. The Rwandan government denies this. The conflict between the two neighboring countries has existed since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when many perpetrators fled to eastern Congo.
Rwanda invaded Congo several times
Rwanda used this several times as an excuse to invade Congo and support militias there – including today’s M23 predecessors. During the peace negotiations, several unsuccessful attempts were made to integrate the group into the Congolese army.
The militias are currently claiming high-ranking posts in the Congolese army. A large part of the population believes that their main concern is the rich deposits of raw materials in the region.
Even the Belgian colonial rulers exploited the land and people, then invaded their neighbors Uganda and Rwanda. Distrust of foreigners is deep in Congolese society. It also affects aid organizations and the UN peacekeeping force Monusco.
People are suspicious of UN soldiers
In early November, a Monusco convoy was attacked and a truck burned. The attackers were convinced that the Blue Helmets had hijacked their M23 warplanes to Goma. A few days ago, refugees threw stones at UN soldiers.
Activist Kabugho sees disappointment in this hostility above all else.
Zola Kitandala Lulonga is also afraid of death: “We will starve to death.” Lulonga, a teacher in Goma, complains about the high prices of flour, palm oil, tomatoes and charcoal.
Prices have been rising since the M23 took several villages outside the town of Goma and blocked the main access road. So for the equivalent of 50 US cents, there are only three tomatoes instead of five.
Security experts in Goma are split on whether M23 wants to take over the city, as the militia did in 2012, or close Goma to wear out the population. Aid agencies are already evacuating their foreign workers. European embassies advise their citizens not to leave their homes in Goma.
It’s not just the militias that are at risk: anyone who makes the slightest criticism of the government or the military is a suspect. The secret service, the police and the military are systematically searching apartments for weapons or alleged spies of the M23. The Congo Press Association threatens to withdraw the press card of journalists who cover “unpatriotic” coverage.
Negotiations in Kenya
East African states community EAC sends troops to Congo. The first soldiers from Kenya have already arrived. At the same time, the EAC is calling for an interview. Since April, the Congolese government has been negotiating in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with a large number of armed groups roaming the eastern Congo.
Talks are expected to continue on Monday. It is questionable whether the M23 is involved. So far, the government has refused to talk to the militia.
I am Timothy Glover, a professional journalist and content creator. I specialize in writing and editing for news websites, specifically covering politics. I have been working as an author at News Unrolled for the past five years and have built up a reputation for producing quality content that is both informative and engaging.