After a 12 day occupation, the armed rebel group March 23 Movement (M23) pulled out of Goma on December 1 under a deal brokered by Uganda. M23 took control of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and home to one million people, on November 20. The occupation followed heavy fighting between M23 and government troops that has been ongoing since mid-November.
The latest violence uprooted at least 130,000 people in eastern DRC, more than half of them children under age 18, adding to the 1.6 million people already displaced in North and South Kivu. The rainy season is adding to the risk of cholera outbreaks, while tens of thousands of children remain at risk of recruitment by armed groups, rape, hunger and cholera.
The tensions in Goma exacerbate an already volatile and unpredictable security situation in North and South Kivu. Defections in early April within the poorly integrated Congolese army, or FARDC, led to attacks and counterattacks in recent months that left hundreds of innocent people dead and thousands displaced. In South Kivu, fighting between armed groups has caused an unknown number of casualties and 30,000 people to flee since mid-October.
International Medical Corps is active in DRC and engaging with humanitarian partners on the ground to assess the needs of those displaced by fighting. At the height of the conflict, we procured urgent drugs and medical supplies for health facilities in and around Goma. With Congolese civilians still highly exposed to violence, hunger and disease, International Medical Corps remains ready to provide critically-needed relief to vulnerable populations.