• World - Africa
  • Updated: December 10, 2022

DR Congo: Massacre Survivors Eke Out Living In IDP Camp

DR Congo: Massacre Survivors Eke Out Living In IDP Camp

After fleeing the Kishishe massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile east, the survivors have recounted how they fled to Kitshanga to a displaced peoples' camp, which has been home to many displaced people for over 20 years.

"We were told that many people died in Kishishe," says one woman who followed the river's path to escape the massacre with some of her children.

They saw horrors in their village of Kishishe and fled, walking for dozens of kilometres in fear and cold to escape the M23 rebels, who are supported by Rwanda, according to the UN.

On Friday, an AFP team reported that they met Samuel, Tuyisenge, Eric, Florence, and others in a displaced people's camp in Kitshanga, Masisi territory, where they had recently arrived.

After fleeing the November 29 killings, they travelled 40 or 60 kilometres through the hills to arrive at this camp known as Mungote.

According to a preliminary United Nations investigation, the M23 ("March 23 Movement"), a predominantly Tutsi rebellion that has seized large swaths of Rutshuru territory, neighbouring Masisi, north of the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma, in recent months, executed at least 131 civilians that day.

The rebels are also accused of rape, kidnapping, and looting against civilians in retaliation for an attack by primarily Hutu armed groups.

"The M23 rebels started shooting everywhere," said Samuel, a young man who said he saw six dead - three members of his family, including his older brother James, and three other residents of Kishishe.

"I decided to run away and it took me a week to get to Kitshanga on foot," he says.

Tuyisenge is a 30-year-old mother. "I was in church and I was able to escape. Some resisted and were killed. I saw nine dead," she said, with tears in her eyes.

"I have seven children, but I came here with three. The other four have disappeared and my husband, I have no news", she added, surrounded by other women who also want to tell the terror they have experienced.

They have nothing, just the clothes they were wearing when they ran away.

Florence, 45, explained that she walked for several days to get here, a little further on, in the middle of the displaced persons' huts.

She has heard nothing from her husband or two of her children. "In the camp, whoever takes pity on me gives me sweet potatoes," she laments.

Eric is haunted by the image of his older brother's two children, who "came out of the house screaming, 'There's shooting!'"

"They were shot right at the door and died on the spot," Jacques and Musayi said.

Rwanda backs the M23, according to the Congolese government, UN experts, and the American and Belgian diplomatic corps.

Kigali denies this, accusing Kinshasa of backing Hutu rebels, some of whom were killed in the 1994 genocide of Rwanda Tutsis. 


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