In DRC, aid groups renew call for civilian protection

A member of militia group, M23, which withdrew from Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2012. Photo by: Sylvain Liechti / U.N.

Heavy fighting has broken out again in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, prompting concerns about the region’s already fragile humanitarian situation.

The scene of conflict was the town of Kitchanga in the North Kivu province, where about 700 militia men from the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo and 1,000 soldiers exchanged deadly gunfire on March 5, killing 70 people, displacing thousands and stalling yet again discussions to integrate militias into Congo’s army.

Humanitarian groups such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross called anew on both parties to distinguish at all times between civilians and fighters, spare vital facilities from the clashes, and ensure safe passage for transport of wounded patients.

“Three months after the events of this past November, I’m very concerned that thousands of lives are again endangered,” said Moustapha Soumaré, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in DRC. “I’m particularly worried about the increase and deepening of ethnic violence and reports of arbitrary arrests.”

Militia group M23 then took control of Goma, the capital town of North Kivu. Last December, the group agreed to a cease-fire.

For this year, the United Nations is seeking $893 million for DRC, but donors have so far only committed $74 million.

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About the author

  • John Alliage Morales

    As a former Devex staff writer, John Alliage Morales covered the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community. Prior to joining Devex, John worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data, and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.