Key questions answered

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Nov 22 2012, 14:18:39

Goma has fallen to rebels. Who are they, and what does it mean for peace prospects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

What is the state of the fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo?

After having captured the city of Goma, the biggest city in eastern DRC with a population of 1 million people, M23 rebels say they will go all the way to the capital, Kinshasa. That smacks of bravado as the capital is around 1,000 miles away and the rebels number only 1,500 to 2,500 - and the Congolese army is about 150,000-strong. Goma fell with surprising ease despite the presence of UN peacekeepers, known by their acronym (Monusco), who were supposed to support the army. The UN said the nearly 1,500 UN troops in Goma held their fire to avoid bloodshed. Besides troops in Goma, the UN has another 6,700 and 4,000 troops in the provinces of North and South Kivu, respectively, including, in some places, behind the M23 lines. It sounds a lot, but the area is huge and UN forces have been criticised in the past for standing by as atrocities were committed by government or rebel troops.

Who are the M23?

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