The Stream

Eastern DR Congo violence: How are civilians coping?

On Tuesday, November 15 at 19:30 GMT:
A major displacement crisis is looming in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as civilians flee their homes to escape renewed fighting between government forces and the M23 armed group.

Army troops are trying to repel M23 fighters who began a fresh offensive in North Kivu province on October 20, after weeks of relative calm. As the rebel group captures towns and villages and is within striking distance of the regional capital Goma, President Felix Tshisekedi is now asking young people to join “vigilance groups”.

Thousands of people have headed towards already overcrowded displacement camps to escape the intensifying fighting, raising fears of a public health crisis. Human rights groups point out that civilians in eastern DR Congo have faced abuse by both M23 fighters and a range of non-state armed groups opposed to M23 that are backed by the national army. UN peacekeepers have come under attack from civilians who accuse them of failing to give protection.

The Congolese government blames neighbouring Rwanda for the rise of M23 in the Congolese-Rwanda border region, and expelled the Rwandan ambassador in late October. Kigali has repeatedly denied giving support to M23, but a confidential UN report seen by news agencies says there is “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have helped rebel fighters. Kenya is deploying hundreds of troops to Goma as part of a regional force supporting the Congolese government.

In this episode we’ll look at the situation for civilians affected by the fighting in eastern DR Congo and ask what’s needed to restore relative safety and security.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Malcolm Webb, @MalcolmWebb
Senior Correspondent, Al Jazeera

Grant Leaity, @grant_leaity
Democratic Republic of Congo Representative, UNICEF

Reagan Miviri, @luchaRDC
Activist, LUCHA