Actualité

Amnesty calls for end to “deliberate attacks” on civilians in DRC

February 21, 2024
Goma, DR Congo

Amnesty International on Tuesday (February 20) called for an immediate halt to “deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians”, as the Congolese army and its auxiliaries clash with the Rwandan army and M23 rebels around Goma in eastern DRC.

After several months of relative calm, intense fighting resumed in January around Goma, the capital of North Kivu, “resulting in the deaths of at least 35 civilians” and leaving “hundreds wounded”, said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, in a statement.

“Thousands of civilians are once again caught in the crossfire and in desperate need of humanitarian aid”, he insisted, pointing out that today, “more than a million people (…) are crowded in and around Goma”, having fled the clashes.

Fighting was still underway on Tuesday near Bweremana, some 15 km west of Goma, according to local residents and civil society organizations contacted by telephone.

The American organization Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) also denounced on Tuesday “the use of heavy artillery and mortar shells against civilian installations (…), such as schools, IDP camps and hospitals”.

“The worst is to be feared for the populations affected by this blind escalation,” Vianney Bisimwa, CIVIC’s Director for Africa and the Middle East, told AFP.
After eight years of dormancy, the M23 rebels took up arms again at the end of 2021, with the support of neighboring Rwanda, and seized large swathes of North Kivu, to the point of cutting off all land access routes to Goma at the beginning of February, apart from the Rwandan border.

They routed the Congolese army, which called on a myriad of local armed groups and two private foreign military companies, and is supported by UN peacekeepers and a regional force from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

 

 

Humaniterre with AFP

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