M23 KIVU: A REGION UNDER SIEGE


April 2012: a mutiny on the part of group of colonels and soldiers from the Congolese government armed forces, FARDC, led to the creation of a political and military force with the name of M23. The revolutionaries, successors of the CNDP and accused by both the UN and the government of  Kinshasa of being supported by Rwanda, demanded more rights and greater safety for the Tutsi minority, declared war on corruption and support for both the decentralisation of power from Kinshasa and a renewal of the government army. In just 3 months their military strength allowed them to take control of the territory of Rutshuru, subjugating the local population and pushing ahead to 20 kilometres from the provincial capital Goma.

Today the city is under siege and a curfew has been imposed. There are over 700 thousand refugees in the region, the border with Rwanda is closed at night, basic goods are found on the black market, and the prospect of the rebels arriving has terrified civil society to the extent it has imploded into anarchy. Murder is the order of the day. The northern region of Kivu is descending into fratricidal conflict, with the Hutu set against the Tutsi once more; on one side the FARDC, on the other the rebels, and in the middle, a population living in a climate of vulnerability and hysteria, psychosis and terror, with no faith in the government soldiers, who see the M23 movement and the Tutsi minority as the cause of the situation they are in. Once again, this fans the flames of the nightmarish situation that is more a reality than a risk in The Great Lakes Region: racial hatred and ethnic cleansing.

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