For several weeks now, residents in dozens of villages in North Kivu, an eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been fleeing fighting between the Congolese army and soldiers who have deserted it. However, some of those who live on the frontlines now find themselves caught in the crossfire.
The army and the deserters are currently fighting near the town of Rutshuru, near the country’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. These deserters are former rebels from a group called the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) that had joined the army in 2009, but defected two months ago. They claim that the government reneged on an agreement to fully integrate them into the army, the police and other public institutions. They are now fighting under the banner of the M23, shorthand for “the March 23 movement”.
Though the army has repeatedly bombed the M23 rebels, they have managed to hold their positions around Rutshuru, where they’ve been fighting since the end of May.
According to the United Nations, this fierce fighting has forced over 200,000 residents of the region to flee. The United Nations Organisation Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) sent troops into the region
on June 4. Along with the Congolese army, they are now trying to protect those civilians who have stayed in the region.
All the photos in this post were taken by our Observer Alain Wandimoyi on Wednesday, June 20.