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Africa

Families flee DR Congo violence

Tens of thousands abandon camps as M23 rebels fight Congolese soldiers.
Last modified: 21 Nov 2012 09:23

At Rwanda's border with DR Congo people wait to be processed so they can leave. It costs $5 each, and families must have their passports or identification cards.

Sarah Nyiresa Binaza sits staring out into space. Her daughter Afisa clutches her handbag and a blanket stuffed inside.

We hear shelling in the distance coming from Goma's airport; that is where Sarah and Afisa live. Afisa flinches, each time there is a loud thud, I reassure them, it is a few kilometres away.

The Binaza family left in a hurry, because they were told by Congolese soldiers to flee. They have enough money to pay to exit, but they do not have the correct paperwork. So they must wait for Rwanda to agree to take them in.

Oxfam says tens of thousands of people are in a similar situation. Internally displaced by other conflicts, they are abandoning the camps outside the city.

The charity is stepping up its emergency water and sanitation for people in Goma, where the situation is deteriorating.

The rebel group known as M23 controls pockets of the provincial capital. There has been some street-to-street fighting.

M23 says it wants to hold direct talks with Kinshasa, but the Congolese government is refusing to sit down with them.