UN Chief Appeals For More Attention To Be Given To The Conflict In Eastern DRC

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The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, on Wednesday, appealed for more attention to be given to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as he visited a camp for displaced people in Goma.

Thousands of Congolese have been forced to flee their homes due to a conflict between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, leading to what the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said is one of the worst displacement crises in the world.

Faida Bauma, who was displaced from Masis with her four children, bemoaned the camp’s miserable living conditions and the ongoing violence that residents suffer.

“They fired bullets that crossed here. Look at the conditions in which we live, when it rains here we suffer, look at where we sleep, when it rains we fold our mattresses. We are going to die here, people are even raped. So there are several cases of violations happening here caused by the military,” she said.

Another internally displaced woman, Aminatha Kasole of Kitshanga, pleaded, “May God help us so that the war ends and people return to their respective areas because we live in poor conditions, we have nothing here. Please let this war end so we can return home.”

Turk’s visit comes as the security situation in eastern DR Congo continues to deteriorate following ongoing clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels near Goma.

Turk spoke to displaced people in the camp during his visit and said to the media: “We have to take this situation very seriously. We have a lot of conflicts in the world, and sometimes I have the impression that we forget the situation here. And I came here to bring the attention of the international community to the tragedy that is happening here.”

An OCHA report released Tuesday stated that since the start of 2024, more than 738,000 people have been newly displaced in the DRC, bringing the total to around 7.2 million displaced people.

It specified that “women represent 51% of the displaced population”.

Since the end of 2021, the province of North Kivu has been gripped by a conflict between the M23, which Kinshasa and the UN accuse of being supported by Rwanda, and the Congolese army associated with armed groups and two foreign military companies.

The DRC accuses Rwanda and its “auxiliaries” of the M23 of wanting to take control of the minerals of eastern Congolese. M23 claim to defend a threatened segment of the population and demands negotiations, which Kinshasa refuses, excluding discussions with “terrorists”.