Displaced people in DR Congo face unease and uncertainty before Dec 20 elections

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News Team

The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently facing a crisis, with nearly seven million people displaced due to renewed conflict with rebels from the March 23rd Movement (M23). This is a record high for a country that has suffered from decades of violence. The International Organization for Migration has announced this grim situation ahead of the DRC’s presidential election, where incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi will be facing off against 20 opposition candidates.

The displaced people are facing numerous challenges, including lack of access to basic services and sheltering in rebel-held territory. The provincial capital of North Kivu, Goma, is experiencing high tensions as the voting day approaches. Many displaced individuals are angry at the government for failing to bring permanent peace and help them in their time of need.

Innocent Tumaini, the camp-elected president of an informal site in Munigi, has been living there for over a year after fleeing fighting in his home district of Rutshuru. He has highlighted the unsanitary conditions, lack of food, and fear of violence that the displaced people are facing. The persistent conflict has led to a situation where many people are unable to vote.

The conflict with M23 and the government-aligned militias has led to a temporary lull in hostilities, followed by renewed fighting. The government’s reliance on the Wazalendo to fight M23 has not been successful, and the conflict is escalating. The M23, primarily composed of DRC members of the Tutsi ethnic group, claims to fight for their rights and protection, while the government is reluctant to negotiate with them.

The situation has led to a humanitarian crisis, with over 600,000 people already sheltered in crowded and makeshift camps near Goma before the ceasefire broke. Humanitarian organizations are struggling to respond to the crisis, and the displaced continue to arrive, seeking shelter and support. The conditions in the camps are dire, with reports of illness and death due to lack of basic necessities.

The upcoming election is facing challenges, as many displaced individuals have not been able to register to vote due to insecurity and rebel control of certain areas. The election discourse has been dominated by questions of conflict and security, with promises of peace and stability being made by both the incumbent president and opposition candidates.

The situation in eastern Congo is complex, with over 120 armed groups fighting for land and political control. This has impacted the ability of local populations to take part in the election, with some areas under rebel control making voting impossible. The upcoming election is facing challenges, and the government’s response to the crisis will be crucial in addressing the needs of the displaced population and ensuring a fair and peaceful election process.

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