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UN Commissioner Urges Global Focus On Congo Crisis Amid Escalating Conflict

An appeal by a UN High Commissioner has been made for more attention to be given to Congo’s worsening conflict.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, made an impassioned plea on Wednesday for increased attention to be directed towards the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during his visit to a displaced people’s camp in Goma.

The region has been engulfed in turmoil as thousands of Congolese have been compelled to flee their homes amidst clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has labeled it one of the most severe displacement crises globally.

Faida Bauma, displaced from Masis along with her four children, expressed despair over the deplorable living conditions in the camp and the persistent violence endured by its residents. She recounted the perilous circumstances, citing instances of bullets piercing through the camp and the dire consequences of inclement weather on their makeshift accommodations.

“They fired bullets that crossed here. Look at the conditions in which we live, when it rains here we suffer, look at where we sleep, when it rains we fold our mattresses. We are going to die here, people are even raped. So there are several cases of violations happening here caused by the military,” she said

Turk’s visit coincides with a worsening security situation in eastern DR Congo, marked by ongoing confrontations between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in the vicinity of Goma.

Addressing displaced individuals during his visit, Turk emphasized the urgency of the situation, urging the international community to refocus attention on the unfolding tragedy in the region.

According to an OCHA report released on Tuesday, over 738,000 people have been newly displaced in the DRC since the beginning of 2024, pushing the total number of displaced individuals to approximately 7.2 million. The report underscored that women constitute 51% of the displaced population.

Since late 2021, the province of North Kivu has been ensnared in conflict between the M23 rebels, accused by Kinshasa and the UN of receiving support from Rwanda, and the Congolese army, in collaboration with armed groups and foreign military entities.

Rwanda and its “auxiliaries” within the M23 have also been accused by DRC authorities of wanting to seize control of the mineral-rich eastern Congolese territories. While the M23 purports to defend a vulnerable segment of the population and advocates for negotiations, Kinshasa rebuffs any dialogue with what it labels as “terrorists.”

Melissa Enoch

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