Sexual Violence: Inside the Besieged City of Goma

A United Nations expert panel said in December there was “substantial evidence” Rwanda was directly backing M23 with arms, ammunition and uniforms. The rebels carry new weapons, helmets and body armour, while Rwandan troops have been found inside DRC territory.

As the M23 rebel group has swept this corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it has been accused of murders, rapes and kidnappings.

Hundreds of thousands have left their homes to escape such atrocities and seek refuge in the city. Yet women in particular find little sanctuary inside the besieged Goma enclave. Starving and desperate, they were hunted by armed gangs of men seeking to exploit their vulnerability.

It is estimated at least 50 women from the Goma camps are being raped and sexually assaulted every day, many of whom are targeted as they search for scraps of food beyond the city’s borders.

The current crisis here, marked by rampant sexual violence, severe food shortages and extreme poverty, has been fuelled by the resurgence of the M23 rebel group. The militia is backed by neighbouring Rwanda, a country currently receiving large sums of UK money under a deal to host some of those seeking asylum in Britain.

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People queue for practically non-existent WFP food deliveries. Lushagala IDP camp.

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