On 24 February African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia signed a U.N.-mediated deal allowing for the deployment of a new intervention brigade to take on rebel groups in the eastern DRC.
The upcoming deployment of the brigade of several thousand soldiers has raised concerns among humanitarians regarding protection of civilians as well as humanitarian space and access.
Armed clashes were reported on 24 February between M23 factions loyal to Jean-Marie Runiga, leader of the movement’s political wing, and Sultani Makenga, their military commander, in Rutshuru. Ten people were killed and more wounded, according to media reports.
Official communication from the M23 military command on 27 February indicate that Runiga has been removed from his role within the movement, and there are media reports of gunfire between pro-Runiga and pro-Makenga factions around Kibumba, just north of Goma, on 28 February. This split in the M23 raises fears of increased violence and the viability of the peace process envisaged by the Addis accords.
According to education authorities, some 1,000 households displaced from Rutshuru during the fighting have settled in schools around Kanyaruchinya, some 10 kilometres from Goma.
Combat broke out 27 February between FARDC forces and the APCLS armed group in the area of Kitchanga (Masisi territory), resulting in 19 civilian casualties according to UNDSS. Over 3000 civilians are reportedly currently sheltering at the MONUSCO base for protection.