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DRC: Exodus Of Thousands Of Families As Fighting Increases In Goma

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As fighting between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army intensifies, thousands of people are leaving their homes in the towns and villages around Goma in search of safety in the busy metropolis, where the situation has also taken alarming turns.

This enormous exodus has its centre in Goma, the main town in the area and home to a sizable Congolese army presence. Olive Luanda from Sake and other residents of nearby villages describe horrific incidents in which soldiers desert their stations and villagers have to run for their lives fearing the approaching M23 fighters. Luanda said, “Soldiers warned us that the M23 rebels were advancing, and we had no choice but to flee,” emphasising how abrupt and desperate the relocation was.

Luanda said, “Soldiers warned us that the M23 rebels were advancing, and we had no choice but to flee,” emphasising how abrupt and desperate the relocation was.

Even though it can take up to five hours to walk from Sake to Goma, the city’s safety is not always assured. Rockets have been raining down on the city’s outskirts in recent days, though they haven’t claimed any lives, highlighting how indiscriminate the conflict’s reach is.

Alain Bauma, a 29-year-old Sake resident who was forced to escape, perfectly captured the overwhelming sensation of uncertainty and displacement that the fleeing populace was experiencing. Filled with possessions, he said, “We fled Sake because we fear for our lives,” making his way to Goma. “The city is under attack, and we are left with nowhere to go.”

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