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AFCON 2023: Bakambu and Mbemba highlight violence in the DRC

AFCON 2023: Bakambu and Mbemba highlight violence in the DRC
Cedric Bakambu and Ahmed Hegazi during the CAN 2023 Round of 16 match between   -  
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Ivory Coast

Democratic Republic of Congo captain Chancel Mbemba and striker Cédric Bakambu are highlighting gun violence in their country's east as they compete in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bakambu, who has featured in every match so far to help Leopards reach the semi-finals, suggested on Monday on X that the world is ignoring human rights abuses in the DRC.

“Everyone sees the massacres in eastern Congo. But everyone is silent,” Bakambu wrote. “Use the same energy that you use to talk about the African Cup to highlight what is happening at home. There are no small gestures.”

Eastern Congo has been plagued by armed violence for decades, as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and precious mineral resources, while others try to defend their communities. Armed groups have long waged campaigns of violence in the mineral-rich region and have been accused of massacres.

The conflict intensified in late 2021 when a rebel group called M23 resurfaced and launched attacks to seize territory. The United Nations and human rights groups say the resurgent group enjoys support from neighboring Rwanda, although that country denies it.

“I think of all the victims of the atrocities committed in Goma and their families,” Mr. Mbemba wrote on site X, referring to the Congolese town bordering Rwanda. “I pray with all my heart that my country finds peace.”

Members of an armed group believed to be the M23 fired on a UN helicopter in eastern Congo last Friday, wounding two South African peacekeepers, one seriously, the United Nations said.

Last week, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi reiterated his claims that the M23 is supported by Rwanda and said he would not engage with Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame, on the issue.

Also last week, armed militants believed to be linked to the Islamic State extremist group killed at least 12 people in three villages in Beni territory, North Kivu province, according to Kinos Katuho, the president of the local organization. the Mamove civil society.

Mr Bakambu said he was trying to bring local aid to Congo through his foundation "but it will never be enough". “Pray, share, act for our brothers and sisters”.

Congo faces the host team, Ivory Coast, in the semi-final of the Africa Cup in Abidjan on Wednesday. The winner will face Nigeria or South Africa in the final on Sunday.

The Leopards had not won a match in regulation time in the tournament until Friday when they beat Guinea 3-1 in the quarterfinals. They drew their three group matches, then beat Egypt on penalties to reach the quarter-finals.

Congo won the last of its two titles in 1974.

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