This morning Caritas Goma Director Fr. Oswald Musoni gave us his reflections on the situation following the fall of the city to M23 rebels on 20 November. “The bombs and bullets were terrifying. I’m finally feeling better after three days and am back and at work,” he said. “Yesterday it was difficult to get around, but this morning the shops are open and the city has come back to life. The Caritas team headed out into the field trying to collect information on the number of people affected by the crisis. The situation is very fluid so we’re still being cautious.”
"I came to the camp looking for safety from the rebels,” said Chantal, a 32 year old mother who is now living with her six children in Mugunga camp in North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She reached the camp after travelling 60km from her home in Masisi. Her family escaped Masisi safely after it was attacked by ‘M23’ rebels. Jacques Mouhindo, another camp resident also from Massisi, wasn’t so lucky. His infant son was injured by a stray bullet while they fled, but thankfully survived. Mugunga camp is home to about 27,000 people. It is just one of the 40 camps that dot this part of Congo. Over a quarter of a million people have been forced from their homes since the M23 rebellion began in April. Chantal says life in the camp is difficult for her family. They’ve been there for six months. “I’m facing [...]
“There is still crackling fire this morning,” says Caritas Goma Head of Emergencies Eddy Yamwenziyo. “But it’s very sporadic and is just shooting in the air.” Congolese ‘M23’ rebels entered Goma this morning according to Radio Okapi. Goma is a city of about a million people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the border with Rwanda. “There is no electricity,” says Taylor Kakala, Caritas Goma’s Communication officer, speaking to us as the batteries run down on his cell phone. “I do not know how long my cell phone will last and when I can recharge it.”
Conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is getting worse. Rebels called the ‘M23’ are only a couple of kilometers from the main regional city of Goma. Any attack would create a largescale humanitarian emergency as Goma has around one million residents. A Caritas staff member Eddy Yamwenzyio spoke to Valerie Kaye earlier by phone from Goma. At 0800 this morning, says Caritas Goma emergency officer Eddy Yamwenzyio , the Mayor Mr. Kubuya announced on the radio that the schools will be closed and children should stay at home. Meanwhile, the M23 rebels said that if the government failed to hold negotiations and withdraw troops from Goma then their military campaign would continue. Eddy Yamwenzyio says that during the course of the morning “the government forces were clearly taking their position in town and they were visible in every roundabout in the city. By 14:00 the shooting began, and everybody who was out started to run for shelter. [...]
En français:E x-combattants The situation in the eastern Congo province of North Kivu continues to deteriorate since conflict resumed in March after hundreds of former rebels defected from the army to join a renegade general. Keeping ex-rebels from returning to the bush is difficult. Poverty, lack of opportunities and lack of acceptance within their communities for their past lives, can lead the former fighters to pick up the gun once more. Caritas Goma is the diocesan Caritas operating in the area. Part of its peacebuilding programme aims to give the ex-combatants a future . Caritas works with the local villagers and the former fighters to create employment opportunities for the latter and improve relations between the two groups. Caritas organises the former fighters into groups of three plus one member of the community. Together they build small community projects. They also receive specialist training. The jobs range from motorcycle taxis to farming, working [...]
Despite fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu between the government army and rebels, Caritas has been able to get food aid through to people in desperate need. Caritas Goma, the local diocesan arm of Caritas Congo, has provided food in Minova, Kalungu, Ntamugenga and Kitshanga to 37,000 people forced from their homes. No international relief had reached these areas since the outbreak of a two-month-old revolt in eastern Congo by the rebels who call themselves M23. The aid delivery began at the weekend in Minova with the support of CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales), Trócaire (Caritas Ireland), Secours Catholique (Caritas France) and Caritas Belgium. Caritas is trying to reach first pregnant women, new mothers and children under five with beans, maize flour, vegetable oil and salt to help supplement their diet. The latest fighting has forced more than 100,000 people from their homes. The spark for the […]
All week they come. The children arrive at the centre tired and breathless. They say they’ve been seized by fighters who want to use them as child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s renewed wars. “We were captured on the hill overlooking our school,” says one child, who has just arrived at a transit centre for former child soldiers in Masisi run by Caritas Goma in Eastern Congo. The child says his classmates were taken on their way to school by the Mai-Mai, one of the militias active in the fighting that has returned to Congo. “They forced us to follow them,” he said. “They told us that we had to defend our homeland against the aggressors.” The ones that come are between 10 and 17 years old. They say that since fighting started again between the government and rebels on 29 April various militias have been ‘recruiting’ children […]
“They come haggard, exhausted and desperate,” said Taylor Kakala, communications officer for Caritas Goma. “These men, women and children fled in panic, leaving with nothing.” They’re coming from the Masisi region in North Kivu, a troubled part of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to the safer towns of Sake and Goma. They’ve fled under machine gun fire, forced to run as rockets and mortars fell on their homes. “We were caught between automatic gunfire and heavy weapons of the government and the rebel fighters. We had to stay low to the ground in order to reach safety,” said Delphine, who escaped with her four children from Mushaki. They walked for 10 days and 40 km to reach Goma. Jerome is a community leader in the Mugunga relief camp. He said they had to take flight without warning. “The fighting began suddenly,” he said. “People were working in the fields. Children […]
Par Ryan Worms Alors que je pars prendre le dernier vol international au départ de Kinshasa, la ville est sous tension, la violence gronde. Que sera la ville demain ou mardi à l’annonce des résultats? Nous espérons tous que le chemin de la paix sera trouvé, mais rien n’est moins sûr. Les derniers évènements et déclarations des uns et des autres n’augurent rien de bon pour la population congolaise. Je quitte la République démocratique du Congo avec de nombreuses images dans la tête. Je me souviens des tensions de mon arrivée le samedi 26 novembre alors que l’armée et la police encerclaient l’aéroport international où était réfugié Étienne Tshisekedi, leader de l’opposition.
Available in French By Ryan Worms in Kinshasa and Caritas staff The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo says the country is on a collision course with disaster unless it pulls back from the brink of violence following last week’s contested elections. “The country is a high speed train heading straight for a brick wall,” said the President of Congo’s Bishops Conference Bishop Nicolas Djomo. “Politicians must apply the brakes of this train before we hit the wall.” Foreign nationals have been urged to leave the country, international flights will be cancelled and cell phone coverage cut ahead of the announcement of results. Caritas Congo is on emergency footing preparing tents and food should violence break out and force people from their homes. Caritas is preparing to feed 6000 street children tomorrow to ensure they receive a meal as instability continues.
Various cases of violence have been reported on the sidelines of the double presidential and general elections held in the DRC on 28 November. The Congolese people are holding their breath ahead of announcement of the presidential election results, which should be made on Tuesday 6 December by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The Caritas Internationalis delegation, which is staying in Kinshasa, was informed that a 20-year-old man, called Léandre, was shot dead while observing the posting of initial results at a polling station near his home. The incident took place in the Banunu neighbourhood, in the municipality of Matete, at 9:30pm on Monday. The delegation saw the young man's body and met his family. His father asked us to report his account. (See the account of the young man's father below) "If the violence escalates on announcement of the results, we will be ready to respond to the needs [...]
Available in English Pour la double élection présidentielle et législative, la population congolaise était fortement mobilisée et déterminée à aller voter, particulièrement la jeunesse. Innocente a 20 ans, elle est étudiante. « Je suis ici pour le développement de mon pays. Je souhaite que les parents puissent envoyer leurs enfants à l’école et que les étudiants aient accès à des bourses d’études comme par le passé. » Aujourd’hui elle est venue voter et est également témoin pour un candidat à la députation à Kinshasa. » Comme elle, Mwanwa est témoin pour un parti politique. Lorsque nous l’avions rencontré dans la matinée, elle n’avait pas réussi à trouver le bureau de vote désigné pour son travail d’observation du processus électoral. « Je suis déterminée, je vais rester toute la journée s’il le faut. Participer à cette élection, c’est mon devoir et personne ne pourra m’empêcher de le faire, je n’ai pas […]
À Kinshasa, nous avons pu observer hier, lundi 28 novembre, le déroulement de la double élection présidentielle et législative dans différents bureaux de vote. Ce processus électoral est contrasté. D’un côté, dans les bureaux de vote où nous étions présents, nous avons vu une forte mobilisation de la population et un dépouillement transparent et sans incident à signaler. Mais, d’un autre côté, d’importants problèmes logistiques ont compliqué le déroulement du scrutin et créé des tensions au sein de la population. Des bureaux de vote n’ont pas reçu le matériel à temps et ont été obligés de retarder leur ouverture provoquant l’impatience des personnes arrivées tôt le matin pour remplir leur devoir de citoyen.
By Ryan Worms in Kinshasa Kinshasa is tense. As I arrive Saturday evening, there is a heavy presence of state security and the police . Today is the last day of the general election campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Political rallies were cancelled in the capital under the orders of the city governor, André Kimbuta Yango. The decision follows clashes between rival political parties and the deaths of two people. The airport is a flash point. Opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi has been blocked at the international airport of N' Djili. He had come to join his supporters despite being banned. At the offices of Caritas Congo, we follow the changing situation. The hope is that the end of the electoral campaign can make it possible to calm the spirits before the vote of Monday. Français Arrivée ce soir à Kinshasa. La ville est sous tension, quadrillée par les forces de sécurité de l’état et la [...]