Back to News

Peace returns as rebels leave Goma

The M23 uprising in eastern DR Congo has officially come to an end after the rebel group surrendered to the Ugandan authorities.

Virunga National Park headquarters at Rumangabo prepares for an attack by rebel group M23. Outside the gates of the park where the UN positioned many tanks, more than a thousand people fleeing surrounding villages came hoping for safety. Both FARDC and UN helicopters flew over the park heading to various positions nearby.

The M23 uprising in eastern DR Congo has officially come to an end after the leader of the rebel group, along with hundreds of militia, surrendered to the Ugandan authorities.

The surrender brings to an end 18 months of violence and instability across the province, including in the regional capital of Goma, home to The Gorilla Organization’s Resource Centre.

Since the start of the insurrection, Goma’s residents have lived in fear as shells rained down on the city, food prices have soared as rebels blocked the roads, and fighting also spread into the Virunga National Park, including into the mountain gorilla sector.

Welcoming the news, The Gorilla Organization’s team in Goma are looking forward to getting back to work without the threat of violence hanging over them, and they are confident that they can continue to make a real difference in this troubled part of Africa.

“In spite of the troubles, we have been able to carry on with our education and community outreach programmes here in Goma, and we’ve also been in constant contact with rangers working in the forests to protect the gorillas,” one team member said.

“Now we hope peace will return for long enough for us to build on the success of our projects and build a better future for the gorillas and for the people they live beside.”

The M23 started their offensive in April 2012 after a group of mutineers from the Congolese army claimed that the Kinshasa government had reneged on its promises. The conflict has seen United Nations troops actively engage with the rebels, often in and around Goma.

Help The Gorilla Organization build on the success of its conservation and development programmes across DR Congo by supportingĀ this year’s Christmas appeal.