In war-torn Goma, Uhuru pleads for mercy on civilians, lasting peace

Civilians flee as M23 rebels advance attacks near Goma, DR Congo

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is currently in the conflict terrain of Goma and Rutshuru, North Kivu province, has come face-to-face with the war waged by M23 rebels in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mr Kenyatta, who is on a work tour of the country, said he was shocked by the scale of the situation and strongly denounced the humanitarian crisis facing the people of North Kivu.

"All these children, mothers and old people we have seen who have become strangers in their country, whatever our differences, let us have pity on them. Let us have pity on them and stop the war before we start talking," he said.

"What I have seen is a catastrophe. This war must be stopped immediately."

He also noted that his work has been severely hampered by the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Goma, the capital city of North Kivu, adding that it is virtually impossible for him to fully realize the potential of his peace keeping role. 

Mr Kenyatta went to DR Congo on Sunday, a day after the arrival of Kenyan troops in Goma, where he met with President Felix Tshisekedi. After conclusion of talks in Kinshasa, the former president landed in Goma Tuesday, a city now gripped by panic as M23 rebels approach. 

The second batch of Kenyan troops left the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Wednesday to join their EAC counterparts in fighting the rebels. 

Uhuru speaks in Kinshasa on DRC conflict

Many families are arriving every day from Rutshuru, particularly from the Kibumba and Muhumba areas, and are staying in schools, churches and public spaces in Nyragongo territory.

According to Mr Constant Ndima, the military governor of Goma, those displaced are estimated at 38,440 people, including children. 

Since the beginning of the clash between M23 and the Uganda-based Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), more than 200,000 people have fled their homes.

On Tuesday, waves of people poured into Goma in panic after rumours that M23 rebels were in the city.