Update: The M23 militia has pulled out of Goma on the condition that the Congolese government began negotiations with them before 2:00pm on Monday December 3, 2012. As of yet, no negotiations have taken place, and the militia remains near the city. Negotiations are supposed to take place in Uganda over the next few days.
According to UN Officials, the humanitarian situations remains “extremely worrying” with at least 130,00 displaced persons who have fled the renewed fighting. Organizations on the ground including Medicine Sans Frontier have documented 23 reported cases of rape and gender violence in the past 2 weeks alone.
On November 20, 2012 the militia known as the M23 took over the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu Province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The M23 militia is led by former Congolese army General Bosco Ntaganda. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda for committing various war crimes and crimes against humanity including sexual violence.
Ntaganda formerly led the CNDP rebels against the government, with the group officially being integrated into the Congolese army in 2009. Despite the outstanding arrest warrant already at the time, Ntaganda himself was made a general. The M23 is significantly made up of mutinying soldiers who have remained loyal to the former rebellion—highlighting the challenges and failures Congo has had in the demobilization and integration of former rebels.
Congolese President Kabila, Rwandan President Kagame, Ugandan President Museveni and M23 military leader Sultani Makenga have met in Kampala, Uganda to negotiate a peace agreement. Regional leaders have issued a statement calling for the rebels to leave Goma by November 26. Days later, the rebel army still remains in Goma and reports indicate it has continued to move in the direction of the province of South Kivu.
The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict is monitoring the situation. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo and the impact that it has on women, men and their families. We urge all parties to end the violence and protect civilians caught in the crossfire.
DR Congo rebels, government to hold peace talks, AFP, 4 December 2012.
Congo rebels awaiting deadline, may try to retake Goma, CTV News, 3 December 2012.
Reports of Sexual Violence as Conflict Intensifies in Eastern Congo, International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, 13 July, 2012.
M23 rebels defy calls to abandon Goma in eastern Congo, CTV News, 27 November 2012.
DR Congo crisis: M23 rebel leader 'flies to Uganda’, BBC News, 26 November 2012.