Torn children, terrified people

Rutshuru (Democratic Congo) (AFP) – Germain, 6, and Isaac, 7, were friends. A bomb fell in their schoolyard in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo during fighting between the army and M23 rebels. They died torn to shreds, victims of a conflict that sowed panic and terror in the region.

The two children went to St Gilbert School in Peruma, about 50 kilometers north of Goma, halfway between the capital of North Kivu and Bunagana, a trading hub on the Ugandan border. It was captured by the March 23rd Movement (“M23 Movement”) rebels. March 23″).

sequel after the announcement

In connection with the bombing of the German and Isaac school last Friday in Rutshuru territory, the Congolese army accused Rwanda of being responsible for what it described as a “war crime”. In order to capture Bunagana, it accused Rwanda of “invading” Congolese territory, again claiming that the Kigali army was fighting on the side of the rebels. What Rwanda denies.

The Congolese government raised its rhetoric, on Tuesday evening, “denunciating the participation of the Rwandan authorities in supporting, financing and arming this rebellion,” and promised to defend “every centimeter” of its territory.

Sitting outside her house, 29-year-old Siva, Isaac’s mother, pleads: “We are tired of war, thank us for peace, so that my eight other children can live and grow.”

Her husband, Bigego, doesn’t know his exact age but believes he was “probably 30 when the M23 was here in 2013,” which makes him 40 today.

sequel after the announcement

A predominantly Tutsi rebellion born in 2012, the March 23rd Movement briefly occupied Goma before being defeated in 2013 by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and United Nations peacekeeping forces. He took up arms again at the end of last year, accusing the Congolese authorities of not honoring an agreement to demobilize and reintegrate his fighters.

Germaine’s father, Joseph Nzionvira, asks that “developed countries help the Congo, so that justice may be served and the offender punished.” He accuses Rwanda, even if he admits that he is “neither a politician nor a soldier”. He said, “I am a farmer, but my son was killed all of a sudden. We are still afraid because the fighting continues.”

– ‘Save my life’ –

Not far from his house, among the banana trees, the graves of the two children were dug and flowers were planted. The bodies of young children were so damaged that their families wanted to bury them immediately. “But we were not able to go to the cemetery because of the security conditions,” their families explained.

sequel after the announcement

Since this bombing the population lives in terror. “The residents slept outside, there was no school for three days, and we lived with fear in our stomachs,” says Floribert Hakizumwamy, the village chief.

In Catali, a neighboring village in Peruma, another school was bombed, its tin roof was pierced, and two classrooms were completely destroyed. There were no injuries and the buildings were empty during the bombing.

On the way to Goma, army patrols intensified and tanks appeared. But the panic remains. In the neighboring territory of Nyiragongo, where the army opposed the March 23 movement at the end of May, the population fled, and dozens of families were left with their meager possessions.

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“I don’t have a fixed destination, all I have to do is save my life,” explains Elizabeth Nsingyonfa. “The people of Gaziza, who are very close to Virunga Park, told us they saw the rebels, who told them they were coming and they would kill us all,” adds the frightened family’s mother.

sequel after the announcement

An army officer in Kibumba, twenty kilometers from Goma, regrets these population movements caused by rumors, he asserts, spread on social media.

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