I am writing to you from North Kivu where I am still working for one more month with Doctors Without Borders as a Log-Admin.
I would like to share some information (for whoever is interested) and the following recent picture with you. A colleague of mine posted it on facebook, and I shared it with my friends who shared it with their friends...
The picture tells you a lot about the current situation in the Kivus and in the DRC.
(by Louis Birabaluge)
Many of you have written to me because now, as the conflict got more intense, it is displayed in the general media.
The conflict has not only started now though; it is going on since many months, and there are various roots for the tensions which were never really erased completely after the last big war in the DRC and the following peace accord.
Thousands of people have therefore not experienced a stable safe and dignified life in the last years; displacement has become part of many people's lives.
Here some latest figures:
"Current fighting between M23 rebel group and the Congolese army near Goma has already displaced about 80,000 people over the last few days. ... Since April, when the M23 rebel group was created, it has already displaced more than 300,000 people, the equivalent of the population of Venice." http://www.internal-displacement.org/countries/drcongo, see also: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=6423&cat=press-release andhttp://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/update/2012/11-23-dr-congo-goma-wounded.htm)
The situation of many the displaced is very critical in regard to health, nutrition, water and sanitation etc, and organizations like MSF, ICRC, Oxfam etc are trying to provide help and essential services.
The displacement and a justice-governance-security vacuum leads to horrific crimes like the abuse of child soldiers and rape (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oGGpulYsZY, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oGGpulYsZY)
The reasons for the continous fightings are complex and "in a region such as this, where ethnic and political lines dissect official borders, few conflicts are strictly domestic."
(http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/20125181465891153.html, see also:http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/alerts/2012/dr-congo-s-goma-avoiding-a-new-regional-war.aspx?utm_source=drcongoalertsm&utm_medium=alert&utm_campaign=sm)
Other, neighbouring governments are said to be involved.
(http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jsS1R_0val6zt1EycLk7GpTH8OZQ?docId=9f72ad30bef44830a63479ecc9335f4c and, in German: http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/interview-kongo100.html).
Mining companies are contributing to fueling it ... and many of us when buying mobile phones, computers, gold etc. without thinking or questioning the sources.
"Goma [capital town of North Kivu] hosts dozens of mineral trading companies, mainly from Asia. Before the most recent fighting erupted —upending three years of relative peace— 50 million in minerals was being shipped from Goma every month, according to the North Kivu Miners Association." It goes without saying that the main part of the population does not profit from this richness.
The congolese army itself is struggling for various reasons, amongst others corruption and .
(http://congosiasa.blogspot.co.uk/, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/11/201211227244864976.html,http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20121125-rdc-le-colonel-kahasha-fait-nouveau-defection), and many rebels defected from the congolese army.
The UN forces here are highly critiziced for failing to protect the population
And the Congolese government is not respected in many parts of the country these days, also because last year's elections were highly criticized
All in all, this conflict and its impact are not talked about or discussed enough yet, while I think that it and its causes and the devastating impact must not be ignored any longer.
Regards from the DRC
-- Janna Greve, c/o MSF-H/Pinga, North Kivu, DR Congo