Wars in Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) pushed the number of people internally displaced by armed conflict, violence and human rights violations to 28.8 million last year, the highest figure recorded by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) in Geneva. More than 6.5 million people were newly displaced within their own countries in 2012, almost twice as many as the year before, IDMC said in its annual report. Since these people have not crossed borders, they are not refugees and do not benefit from international protection.
Chinese are coming to Africa in ever greater numbers and finding it a comfortable place to visit, work in and trade. An estimated 1m are now resident in Africa, up from a few thousand a decade ago, and more keep arriving. Chinese are the fourth-most-numerous visitors to South Africa. Among them will be China’s new president, Xi Jinping, who is also going to Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo on his first foreign outing as leader.
THE first act of the rebel army that conquered Goma, a city in eastern Congo, on November 20th was to march up to the border with neighbouring Rwanda, as if for a celebratory inspection. A few hundred fighters with Kalashnikov rifles paraded past the silent guns of the United Nations peacekeepers, who were meant to defend the lakeside city and keep the rebels out. The ill-disciplined Congolese national army had already fled. A spokesman for the rebels, who call themselves M23, said they were going to “greet their friends”. On the Rwandan side of the border a crowd gathered to cheer.
There is now a real risk of a new war breaking out in this troubled, mineral-rich part of central Africa which, from 1998 until 2003, experienced the most lethal conflict since the second world war. What happens next hinges on the true nature of the relations between Rwanda and M23, a group that was born seven months ago and draws its name from an attempted peace deal signed on March 23rd, 2009.
One of Congo’s biggest eastern cities fell to a powerful rebel force on Tuesday, Nov. 20, in a war that may redefine the region but has produced little political action by the United Nations, the United States, and international powers that heavily support neighboring governments — notably Rwanda, a Western darling and aid recipient — that are backing the violence,according to U.N. experts. The fighting has displaced nearly 1 million people since the summer, and the battle for the city of Goma marks the latest episode of a long struggle by Rwandan-backed rebels to take control of a piece of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — a struggle the rebels are now decisively winning. The fighting has also highlighted the ineptitude of the United Nations mission, one of the world’s largest and most expensive, charged with keeping Congo’s peace.
As the rebellion in Syria languishes on with little attention from the international community, aconfidential report authored by the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts was leaked to Reuters. This is not the first time such a “leak” has occurred, which implicates the credibility of the Group of Experts or the U.N. itself. The report allegedly confirms that the M23 rebels operating in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are under not only the material and financial support of the Ugandan and Rwandan governments, but under the direct military command of Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence.
While the civil war in Syria continues to grab headlines, prompting some in the international community to call for immediate intervention, another major conflict, displacing thousands of civilians, rages in Central Africa. Despite the rising number of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as the reports of massive human rights violations being committed against the local population, the ongoing struggle in the Democratic Republic of Congo has not received the attention warranted of the two-decade battle.
The DRC, which has been riddled by war since the 1994 Rwandan Genocide spilled across its borders,posts a reported death toll of over 5 million since 1998 and remains the most deadly conflict since World War II. Despite numerous peace agreements between the government, foreign states and the multitude of rebel militia groups, the eastern provinces of the DRC have seen little peace over the last 20 years. This year is no different.