Hundreds of young people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are flocking to army recruiting centres and signing up after their president Felix Tshiesekedi called on the nation’s youth to help halt the advance of the March 23 Movement, a rebel military group that has been terrorising the eastern province of North Kivu. Our team spoke to one of these volunteers.
The M23 rebel group, which opposes the Congolese government, was first active in the eastern province of North Kivu a decade ago. Made up mostly of people from the Tutsi ethnic group, the rebel force is thought to have links to neighbouring Rwanda.
The group launched a new offensive on October 20 of this year, capturing several towns in North Kivu, including Rutshuru Centre and Kiwanja. The Congolese Army admitted to abandoning their positions during the offensive, to avoid “causing unnecessary deaths", amongst the population. On November 8, the Congolese Army bombed M23 positions, according to journalists on the ground.
Since October 20, at least 50,000 people have fled their homes according to the United Nations and moved to displaced persons camps around the city of Goma.
Kiwanja and Rutshuru Centre are both located on National Route 2, about 70 kilometres from Goma, the regional capital of North-Kivu.
Since then, a number of videos showing soldiers overseeing young people marching and training in Goma have been posted online.
'I want to go to the frontlines as soon as possible'
Rwanda is inflicting a war on us, we have to do something.