Alarm as anti-M23 protests turn xenophobic in DR Congo

Thursday June 16 2022

Demonstrators attempt to reach the border post between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda during anti-M23 protests in Goma on June 15, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


The Democratic Republic of Congo’s protests against the M23 rebel group are turning xenophobic, according to the Governor of Kinshasa, the country’s capital, Mr Gentiny Ngobila.

This week, protesters have been holding marches in major cities against the group accused of launching attacks in renewed violence in eastern DRC.

But the protests have also raised sentiments against Rwandans and people who share ethnic descent from Rwanda. 

Governor Ngobila condemned “with the utmost energy” these acts of xenophobia which he said are targeting people who have no role in the violence, on social media.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi last week accused Rwanda of supporting M23, a charge Kigali rejected and asked DRC to sort out its “internal” issues.

In Goma, North Kivu Province in eastern DRC, demonstrators threatened to cross the border to protest in Rwanda. They were turned away by Congolese anti-riot police.


Read: M23 war threatens to spill to Rwanda

“I condemn the calls for uprising and acts of xenophobia against any foreign populations, especially those from Rwanda, who have chosen Congo as a second home.

“This behaviour, which tarnishes the image of our city and undermines our legendary hospitality, is unacceptable. We will not tolerate uncivil acts under any pretext whatsoever. I call on the population to remain calm.”

Hate speech

At the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Congo (Monusco), a similar concern was raised. “The UN is also deeply concerned about the number of reports of increased hate speech in the country against certain communities, particularly in the context of the resurgence of the M23. Throughout the DRC, hate speech must be fought proactively," said Ndeye Khady Lo, Monusco's deputy spokesperson, on Wednesday.

Last week, the UN mission in the DRC brought together the communities living in Kivu, notably the Hunde, Hutu, Nande, Nyanga, Tembo and Tutsi to sensitise them to social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.

Read: Uhuru wants boots on ground in DRC

Also read: DRC rebels seize trading hub on Ugandan border