As the Rwandan-backed M23 armed group advanced towards Goma and fighting resumed today around the capital of North Kivu province, combatants on all sides of the escalating conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo must take steps to safeguard civilians from attack, Amnesty International said.
Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled – including many who were previously displaced – and the humanitarian and security situation has deteriorated dramatically since fighting between M23 and the Congolese army (FARDC) resumed some 30 km north of Goma on 15 November.
"The advance towards the gates of Goma places thousands more civilians at risk," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.
"All parties to the conflict must protect civilians from attack and respect international humanitarian law, as hostilities get closer to densely populated areas."
Since the M23 was created in April 2012, Amnesty International has documented numerous human rights abuses attributed to its fighters – including unlawful killings, forced recruitment of children and young adults, and rape.