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Conflict in the Congo

Wanted to give an update about the events transpiring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since we spent a week in Goma, DRC with UNICEF and UN Mine Action Services last year while doing research for our play, we have been watching the situation developing in this troubled country with great interest. Only one year ago, we were talking with NGO’s about the progress they were making assisting victims of violence and their ongoing struggles for funding and today refugees are once again fleeing their towns and villages to escape the violence.

For those not familiar with this current conflict, fighting has broken out over the past several months between the Congolese Army and rebel forces called the M23. “M23” is named after the failed peace agreement signed on March 23 three years ago. It has been reported by the UN that Rwanda is backing these rebels. The U.S. has decided to cut military aid to Rwanda as a result. UN Peacekeepers have been relocated to Goma to help protect the city – fighting has come as close as 16 miles. As fighting seemed to intensify, we contacted Jennifer with UNICEF to hear firsthand how they were doing. Jennifer was instrumental in our research taking to various local NGO’s in and around Goma. She told us that currently everyone we’ve met with is fine and that she thinks Goma will continue to be safe. In a country still trying to recover from years of conflict and fighting, the last thing the people of the DRC need is another war and resulting refugees. Jennifer told us that there are already over 200,000 refugees fleeing the fighting. Refugees are flooding into Goma and over the borders into Rwanda and Uganda. We will continue to speak with her and get updates to pass along. To think if we were traveling this year, it would be highly unlikely we would have been able to visit the DRC.

For more information, we recommend watching or reading coverage on BBC News.

Photograph: Junior D Hannah/AFP/Getty Images

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