Unrest and Discontent Mount Among Displaced Civilians in Goma, DRC

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
Goma

In Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), tensions erupted on Tuesday, March 5th, claiming the lives of two individuals—a displaced civilian and a Wazalendo militia member—in the densely populated neighborhood of Lac Vert.

This area has become a refuge for displaced persons following the M23 offensive, supported by Rwanda, which commenced in February. Amidst a backdrop of armed men, including Congolese soldiers and pro-government armed groups, civilians find themselves increasingly vulnerable and denounce residents.

“The authorities always arrive too late,” lamented a representative of the local civil society on Tuesday, following the deployment of a delegation of soldiers and militiamen sent to quell tensions in Goma, eastern DRC.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, armed men, belonging to loyalist troops, reportedly shot and killed a war-displaced civilian in the Lac Vert neighborhood of Goma, according to multiple sources. This act of violence ignited the anger of the crowd.

By Tuesday morning, tires were set ablaze on the streets, and a member of the Wazalendo militia—a pro-government militia allied with the Congolese army—was set on fire by an enraged group. Since the withdrawal of loyalist forces to Goma in mid-February, Wazalendos and regular troops have been near civilians.

Subsequently, insecurity has only escalated. Theft, extortion, and sexual violence have become rampant, with residents claiming to have repeatedly alerted local authorities before this tragedy. “Our alerts fell on deaf ears,” asserted one displaced individual.

On Monday, despite prohibitions against public demonstrations, a handful of Congolese defied restrictions and took to the streets of Goma to protest against the challenging living conditions: soaring prices, increased taxes, and harassment by armed men in the city, which has become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced persons due to the ongoing conflict.

The unrest and grievances in Goma underscore the urgent need for effective measures to address the security concerns of civilians and alleviate their suffering. Immediate action is imperative to restore peace and stability to the region and provide much-needed support to those affected by the conflict.

Weafrica24

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