M23 Gains Near Goma in Eastern DRC: 7.1 Million People Displaced

M23 Gains Near Goma in Eastern DRC: 7.1 Million People Displaced

Kanako Mita and Chika Yoshida

Modern Tokyo Times

The Tutsi-led M23 insurgents are moving closer to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Accordingly, with an array of other militias in Eastern areas of the DRC, approximately 7.1 million people are internally displaced.

This week, the UN head of the DRC peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) notified the world of the dire situation. Bintou Keita informed the UN Security Council by clarifying that “One Congolese person out of four faces hunger and malnutrition.”

Keita continued: the M23 “is making significant advances and expanding its territory to unprecedented levels.”

Millions of people in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivi, and South Kivu feel the brutal and devastating convulsions of so many ethnic, religious, political, and terrorist groups in this part of the DRC. For example, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a brutal Islamist terrorist group that formed in Uganda. However, the ADF mainly kills Christian civilians in the DRC. 

Rwanda – despite repeated denials – supports the M23. Yet, the reasons are complex because Rwanda seeks to protect the Tutsi and the Kinyarwanda-speaking minorities of this part of the DRC. Therefore, given the massacres of the Tutsi by Hutu extremists in Rwanda in 1994 (approximately 800,000 Tutsi were killed in 100 days), the government of Rwanda is focused on the role of Hutu forces (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda – FDLR)

The BBC reports, “Some two million Hutus – both civilians and some of those involved in the genocide – then fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the time called Zaire, fearing revenge attacks. Others went to neighboring Tanzania and Burundi.”

Three decades later, the DRC is mired by internal ethnic and political tensions – along with regional convulsions emanating from Rwanda and Uganda (ADF Islamists).

Lee Jay Walker (Modern Tokyo Times analyst) says, “The DRC is blessed (it seems like a curse) by abundant natural resources. Accordingly, similar to Balochistan (Pakistan) and other parts of the world, major international players involve themselves in complex regional issues. Hence, China is supporting the DRC and Pakistan national governments, respectively.”

Accordingly, the Foreign Ministry of Rwanda highlighted the role of China in supporting the DRC. The Foreign Ministry said the government of Rwanda is taking “…measures to ensure the complete air defense of Rwandan territory and to degrade offensive air capabilities following the introduction of advanced Chinese CH-4 attack drones by the DRC in 2023 and repeated violations of Rwandan airspace by Congolese fighter jets.”

China sent 9 Caihong 4 (CH-4) attack drones to the government of the DRC. These are now being used against the M23.

In the last five weeks, over 250,000 people have fled to the environs of Goma – seeking humanitarian support and hopeful sanctuary. Hence, if M23 forces took Goma, the crisis would spiral even further.

The DRC is blessed by having columbium, cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, lead, manganese, tin, zinc, and other natural resources. However, regional convulsions emanating from Rwanda and Uganda – along with a weak central government and internal ethnic divisions – entail that hundreds of different militias exist in the worst-hit areas.

The European Union (EU) said, “The EU underscores the obligation for all States to stop any support to these armed groups. In particular the EU condemns Rwanda’s support for M23 and military presence on Congolese territory. It strongly urges Rwanda to immediately withdraw all its military personnel from the DRC as well as to terminate all support to and cooperation with M23. It strongly urges the DRC and all regional players to terminate all support to and cooperation with the FDLR, who have their roots in the genocide against the Tutsi, and any other armed group.”

The EU seeks a political solution between the DRC and Rwanda. Henceforth, the EU is calling for dialogue between both nations.

Naturally, the EU understands that other potent forces, including the ADF and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), pose a threat to civilians and the nation-state of the DRC. However, if the DRC and Rwanda can build bridges, this will give breathing space to focus on other issues that blight Eastern areas of the DRC.

Honest brokers are needed to stem the crisis between the DRC and Rwanda. After all, unlike the threat of ADF Islamic terrorists and others, the M23 and FDLR issues can be solved by national governments if compromises are made.

Approximately 7.1 million people are displaced in the DRC. Accordingly, food insecurity and stresses on the weak medical system are increasing. Therefore, regional and international nations with clout must seek a solution to the crisis.

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