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Africa

Situation deteriorating in Goma

Congolese flee to Rwanda as M23 rebel group fights for provincial capital Goma
Last modified: 20 Nov 2012 11:53
Fighting near Goma is forcing many Congolese to seek shelter [AFP]

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, where Sarah and Afisa live. Afisa flinches each time there is a loud thud. I reassure them that 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.

The situation in Goma is deteriorating, and the rebel group known as M23 controls pockets of the provincial capital. There has been some street-to-street fighting. It is unclear who is in control of the airport, though M23 says it has taken it over. The airport was being protected by the Congolese Presidential Guard and United Nations peacekeepers.

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