DR Congo

DR Congo: A deadly calm in Goma

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After panic and lootings by retreating troops a deadly calm has fallen over Goma in Eastern Congo.

Goma was quiet Thursday morning after a night of horror created by retreating troops of the Congolese army. They shot and looted the civilian population during the night. Many shops have been pillaged and houses broken into.

A whole family (9 people including a breastfeeding baby) has been killed in Katindo area. Several corpses were found in the morning in the streets, the majority being the corpses of Congolese soldiers killed (presumably by the MONUC) while they were looting.

Since Wednesday afternoon, NGO and UN staff have been asked to regroup at assembly points designated by the MONUC for possible evacuation. This morning, Goma is almost a dead city as people are retrenched in their houses not knowing really what is happening.

Retreating troops cause panic

Yesterday evening, panic caused by retreating troops, by rumours of the CNDP entering Goma and by the movement of the displaced people from Kibumba who forced their way into Goma (they were blocked from entering Goma on Tuesday) created a displacement of a number of people toward the neighbouring Sake region in Masisi.

Its is reported that most of those who left Goma for Sake are the families of the retreating Congolese soldiers. The majority of Goma population stayed at home.

For the moment, it is not possible to evaluate the scale of the disaster created by this situation. Hopefully more information will be available soon, so a base for an emergency response alert will be available for the Goma region.

"People are panicking and the humanitarian situation is horrible" tells one DCA-program officer situated in Bukavu south of Goma.

Situation in Lubero

Lubero is a region situated +/-150 km North of Goma town. Since the beginning of the fighting, wounded soldiers and civilians together with other displaced peole have moved to Kanyabayonga, Kayna and Kirumba cities situated in Lubero. Yesterday, tension was noticed among the population following the increasing number of retreating troops and wounded soldiers in the region.

All International NGOs have evacuated their personnel toward Butembo and Beni.

It is feared that with the fall of Goma to the rebel, the retreating soldiers will commit brutalities on the population. Most of the displaced people in Kanyabayonga are the families of retreating soldiers, mostly their wives.

UK government must act

Christian Aid, part of the ACT Network, believes the UK government has a vital and unique role to play in securing peace for DRC and the wider region.

The UK is a major financial donor to the DRC and to Rwanda and must use its considerable influence to bring everyone involved in the conflict back to the negotiating table to implement the existing peace agreement and prevent further humanitarian disaster.

Christian Aid is extremely concerned by the recent escalation of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is threatening to plunge the country back into war.

An estimated 200,000 people have fled their homes in the past two months to escape fighting between government troops, UN peacekeepers and rebel forces in north and south Kivu, close to the Rwandan border.