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M23 Rebellion: Escalation of Violence in DRC

Updates

5/30/2013: Goma threatened again as new UN force gathers

Violence sparked in late May after nearly six months without reports of serious clashes.  As reported by the AP, “a new U.N. military brigade is being formed to attack rebel groups and bring stability to the mineral-rich region.”

11/21/2012 Update: UN Releases Group of Experts Report confirming Rwanda’s connection with M23

The previously unconfirmed but widely accepted connection between the M23 Rebellion and Rwanda has been cemented in the UN Group of Experts report, released today. The de facto chain of command of M23 culminates with Bosco “the Terminator” Ntaganda– the ICC indictee who has been leading M23 since it formed in April– and the minister of defense of Rwanda.

11/20/2012 Update: M23 have taken Goma

Since we reported to you yesterday, the situation in Congo has taken a turn for the worse. The M23 rebellion has stormed and seized Goma, a major city in eastern Congo and home to 1 million Congolese civilians. This is the largest takeover by rebels in eastern Congo since 2003, the end of the war that took 5.4 million lives.

This morning we heard from more of JWW’s project partners in Goma. Many are safe, but many more have friends and family members who are unaccounted for. Through violence, pillaging, intimidation and fraud, the M23 rebel group has displaced more than half a million people since April. The fate of many of our close friends and partners in Goma and beyond now lie in their hands. We need your help.

The U.S. government can help end the crisis. Now, more than ever, it’s time to for us to show leadership. We need to encourage the White House to speak out against this rebellion.

Send this letter Denis R. McDonough, the White House’s Deputy National Security Advisor, and ask him to take action against the M23 incursion for the people of eastern Congo.  (Action ended.)


Map of M23 Violence

M23-related fighting in the past week in North Kivu.   Note that Goma is on Lake Kivu just south of the Nyiragongo volcano.

Violence has surged dramatically in eastern Congo in the last few days. The M23 rebellion, which launched in March of this year with the likely backing of both Rwanda and Uganda, reached the outskirts of Goma in North Kivu province late Sunday night. Shelling and mortar fire have been heard in Goma for several hours today; Rwanda has accused the Congolese Army of shelling positions across the border in Rwanda – an accusation the Congolese government denies. Upwards of 60,000 civilians are newly displaced.

Newly displaced Congolese flee their homes.

As much as is possible, we are keeping in close contact with our partners on the ground in Goma and beyond. Communication is sporadic at best as much of the city’s phone and email service has been disrupted. Everyone that we have been able to contact is still safe.  They are staying indoors and praying for a de-escalation of the violence as the shelling in Goma continues.  We join them in those prayers.


Take Action

We need your help. Please call UN Ambassador Susan Rice at (212) 415-4000 and say:
“My name is _____, and I’m calling about the current violence in Democratic Republic of Congo. I urge you to call for the immediate de-escalation of the M23 rebellion in Congo and demand an end to external support of M23 by Rwanda and Uganda. Please work with our international partners to pressure ALL parties to this conflict, including Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, to resolve the crisis through constructive negotiations.”

US-trained Congolese soldiers deployed to halt advances of M23.


JWW On The Ground

You may already know that Janice Kamenir-Reznik (JWW Co-Founder and President) and Diana Buckhantz (JWW Board Member) had planned to visit our projects in South Kivu starting November 26, 2013. After reassessing the security situation for that leg of the trip, they restricted their trip to visiting the Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.  Another Congo trip has been planned for June 2013.


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