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Residents of Goma Face Starvation Amid Ongoing Conflict in DR Congo

Emile Bolingo, among the residents of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), expressed concerns about the city’s ability to endure the current crisis. Goma, home to about two million people, has been isolated from its vital food supply routes for several days due to the resurgence of conflict. Rebels from the M23 movement are blocking key roads, creating a dire situation for the population.

The M23 rebels, led by the ethnic Tutsi community, have cut off Goma from the north and west, preventing the transportation of essential produce. With a growing population fleeing from advancing fighters, Goma is grappling with a potential humanitarian crisis. The situation has raised fears of widespread hunger if the Congolese army does not secure the main roads promptly.

Glody Murhabazi Mundeke Kandundao lies in a hospital bed, shirtless, looking at his mobile phone

Mundeke Kandundao, a motorbike taxi rider, has just undergone surgery after a bomb blast

 

Sake, a town northwest of Goma, recently faced an attack, leading to injuries and casualties. The conflict has resulted in a surge in patients at hospitals, overwhelming medical facilities. Laurent Cresci from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) highlighted the challenges in managing the increased patient numbers, describing it as a “mass casualty” event.

For many residents, this scenario triggers painful memories of previous displacements and conflicts. Pascal Bashali expressed frustration, asking, “For how long shall we live like this?” as people continue to flee. Aline Ombeni, arriving in Goma, pleaded for assistance, highlighting the urgent need for shelter and food.

The M23, formed in 2012, claims to protect the Tutsi population in the east of DR Congo. The group has been linked to neighbouring Rwanda, an accusation consistently denied by Kigali. The conflict is rooted in economic motivations, with accusations of resource looting. Congolese Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya urged the UK to influence Rwanda to ease the situation.

AFP Armed M23 fighters sit on the back of a pickup truck

M23 fighters are well equipped, but the group denies being a Rwanda proxy
Reuters An image of tents in large camp near Sake for those who have fled their villages
Hundreds of thousands of people have already fled their villages to live in makeshift camps; some are on the move again

 

There are mounting concerns that the well-organized M23 militia could capture Goma, raising alarm about the potential consequences for the region. Despite recent reassurances from Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, the situation remains volatile. Goma’s strategic significance, as a hub for mining towns and international organizations, intensifies the urgency to address the ongoing conflict and its humanitarian impact.

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