1. Pope Francis condemns ‘economic colonialism’ in Africa on visit to DRC


Pope Francis has condemned “economic colonialism” in Africa, denouncing the “poison of greed” for mineral resources as he began a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tens of thousands of people cheered, chanted and waved flags as he travelled from the airport into the capital, Kinshasa, in his popemobile. But the mood changed when the pope gave a speech to dignitaries at the presidential palace, condemning “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fuelled war, displacement and hunger. In the speech, Francis said the DRC’s history had been hobbled by conflict and a history of foreign domination. “Political exploitation gave way to an economic colonialism that was equally enslaving,” he said. “As a result, this country, massively plundered, has not benefited adequately from its immense resources,” he told an audience of Congolese politicians and other dignitaries, speaking in Italian. “It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation,” he said. “The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said, referring to Congo specifically. “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” he said, to applause.

His message will resonate well in the DRC, a vast central African nation of about 100 million people.

Despite its vast reserves of minerals, timber and freshwater, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries

in the world. About two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day, according to the World

Bank. Conflict also ravages the east of the country, where M23 rebels have captured swathes of territory

since late 2021. The violence in the east is connected to the long and complex fallout from the 1994

genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. An estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced in Congo and 26

million face severe hunger, largely because of the impact of armed conflict, according to the United

Nations. Francis, in his speech, encouraged ongoing regional peace efforts and said that “we cannot grow

accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades”. The pope criticised rich countries

for closing their eyes and ears to the tragedies unfolding in Congo and el sewhere in Africa. “One has the

impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring it

[Congo]. We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing

millions of deaths,” he said.

Pope Francis condemns ‘economic colonialism’ in Africa on visit to DRC | Pope Francis | The Guardian



2. Update from Goma


The update on the situation in Kivu North was sent to DHPI by a partner in Goma:

Clashes between the M23 rebels and the FARDC (Congolese Armed Forces), have been steadily intensifying since 2022. In a report by the Justice and Peace Commission in Goma, the rebels, who according to the Congolese government, are being supported by Rwanda, are spreading their area of influence further inland into the country. They started with Nyiragongo, and have moved towards Masisi and Kitshanga. They have managed, just after conquering the border city of Bunagana, to also take over Rutshuru, Kiwanja, Tongo, Rugari, Kishishe and other areas falling under the traditional Bwisha Chiefdom of Rusthuru. As a result of these fresh hostilities, there have been some developments:

 A near total deterioration of relations between Congo DRC and Rwanda, with the DRC all but

explicitly accusing Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels in their endevours. Since the DRC has

declared the M23 as a terrorist organization, any support by outside governments would constitute

the aiding and abetting of a terrorist organization. Although there has been an effort to lower the

tensions by both Nairobi and Luanda, through the deployment of regional forces from East Africa,

the local population seems to not trust them, having preferred the combative forces rather than

peacekeeping ones. However, it seems even though they were ultimately deployed, the EACRF (East

African Community Regional Force) members are annexing lands belonging to private citizens, and

violently dispersing protesting crowds. On 18 January 2023, 3 journalists and 5 loc al demonstrators

were arrested for clashing with the EACRF. Even though the EACRF has set up buffer zones to stop the spread of the M23, the M23s are always stationed very close to these zones, leading to local uncertainty as to whether the rebels are effectively being thwarted.

since 2023 is an election year in DRC, the continued uncertainty of the M23s are casting doubt on the ability of the government to be able to run free and fair elections without interference from the rebels.

there has been increased instances of targeted assassinations, kidnappings, armed robberies to the local populations, due to the lawlessness of the rebel infestations, and are often not reported, much less investigated or prosecuted.

Grass-roots organizations have come together under the banner of the Patriotic Resistance, in order to have a local response to the rebels.

the PDDRCS programme (Programme for Disarmament, Demobilization, Community and Social Reintegration) has been started Communities are suffering from a resurfacing of inter-ethnic and xenophobic tensions. Some road checkpoints are ethnically based, and other ethnicities accuse them of being biased towards any ethnicity except the one manning any particular checkpoint.

M23 is accused of behaving like a petty fiefdom, appointing functionaries to rule over the populace in areas under its control, disrupting central and local government power and control.

There is an overpopulation of armed groupings in the east; with MONUSCO, EACRF, M23, FARDC, Patriotic Resistance, mercenaries, and other armed groups all conve3rged in the same general area. this is a powder keg waiting to go off, more especially since all the different grouping do not share information, even those who claim to be allied to each other.

The closure of the local trade circuit of Goma-Butembo road has led to skyrocketing prices in the local markets, and a huge pressure on the cost of living. Currently, the Kitshanga-MwesoNyanzale-Kanyabayonga road is being used to circumvent this, but those road conditions are dilapidated.

 Locals are not able to harvest their crops, which are routinely vandalized and looted by rebels. Livestock is also at risk of being stolen and destroyed, leading to heightened economic pressure on an already tight economy. The resumption of hostilities has pushed large numbers of the population into displacement. According to the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Coordination report, dated 10 November 2022, about 237 000 people have fled their homes, with another 16 500 fleeing to Uganda. in the Kanyaruchinya and Kibati camps in Nyiragongo, the number is estimated at 22 000

the Provincial Division of Humanitarian Actions and National Solidarity says at least 158 accommodation sites have popped up, around schools, churches, health centres, and other such centrally accessible places. One of the largest is on land owned by the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco, in Ngangi. The missionaries have appealed for help, because the conditions in which the people are living is deplorable, and they require emergency aid.

Since the spread of displaced peoples throughout Nyirangongo, there has been an increase in armed groupings, all expecting the advance of M23. These groupings are now being accused of participating in kidnappings of civilians, rape and looting in villages, and forced labour conditions on IDPs.

People living under M23 rule have not been able to access humanitarian assistance, leading to even greater abuses by M23, which force the locals to pay taxes and penalties for miscellaneous things, making them even poorer than what they are.



3. DRC Army tells Rwandan forces to leave


the latest development, the troops from Rwanda have now formally been told to leave the DRC, according to an official communique released 30 January 2023, signed by the Major-General of the DRC forces, Maj-Gen Sylvain Ekenge Bomusa Efom

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