DRC: M23 rebels cause suffering

Brussels 09.12.2022 Thousands of tiny makeshift shelters hug the road leading north out of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, a symptom of the vast humanitarian crisis gripping the turbulent east.

Since late October, many tens of thousands of people have flocked towards the relative safety of the city, fleeing the advance of the M23 rebel group.

The most vulnerable have settled near the roadside, packed inside tents cobbled together from sticks and tarpaulin on fields of lava spouted from the looming volcano Mount Nyiragongo.

Despite aid efforts, all of the displaced people interviewed by AFP complained of hunger, and several described having to fight for food. Cholera, a consequence of poor hygiene, has also broken out.

The United Nations Children agency’s West and Central Africa Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said that children are facing growing danger in the east as conflict, cholera and measles outbreaks are spreading. This situation could rapidly spiral out of control particularly in overcrowded sites, hosting almost 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), with very limited sanitation facilities.

“The scale of the crisis and lack of protection of IDPs is alarming,” Ms. Poirier said during a visit to North and South Kivu provinces.

“There is now a total of 5.7 million IDPs in the DRC – the overwhelming majority of whom are in the east, because of fighting that has raged throughout this year provoking over 1.5 million new IDPs, with more than half who are children.

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