Thousands Forced to Flee in DRC’s North Kivu Province as M23 Attacks Intensify

At least 78,000 children are among those who have been forced to flee.

1 min read
Displaced people line up to get water in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Goma, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Feb. 8, 2024. (Photo by Zanem Nety Zaidi/Xinhua)

At least 150,000 people have been displaced in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since February 2, as fighting has intensified between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and the M23 rebel group.

According to Save the Children, at least 78,000 children are among those who have been forced to flee.

The province of North Kivu has borne the brunt of violence and displacement since the resurgence of the M23, a rebel group backed by neighboring Rwanda, in March 2022. The rebels had briefly captured its capital, Goma, in a blitz of attacks in 2012, before being driven out.

The M23 is among over 120 armed groups believed to be operating in the eastern provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri), which hold the DRC’s mineral wealth. The region has seen violence and warfare for decades, including direct invasions and proxy warfare by Rwanda and Uganda, as its critical resources such as cobalt, coltan, gold, and diamonds, have been looted and exported.

The M23 made advances to the town of Mweso towards the end of January 2024. On January 25, the FARDC accused the rebel group of dropping 120mm mortar bombs “indiscriminately” on the town, killing 19 people and wounding 27 others. Clashes took place again over the past weekend, leaving 30 people injured. At least 2,500 people, including children whose parents have been killed, remain at the Mweso hospital.


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