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.
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.
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.