Rwandans in DRC stay Indoors as Rebel attacks spur National Anger

Life in Kinshasa was going well for Zawadi, a mother of two from Rwanda, until faraway fighting stoked Congolese anger against her country and videos of men with machetes prowling the city streets in search of Rwandans surfaced on social media.

The trouble started in May, when the M23 rebel group resumed heavy fighting against the military in the eastern reaches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after years of relative quiet.

Hundreds of kilometres to the west, in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, Zawadi watched in horror as videos of anti-Rwandan demonstrations circulated on social media and people she knew started posting anti-Rwandan images and slogans.

“I can’t take my children to school. I can’t go to the market. I have to stay at home,” said Zawadi, who declined to give her family name because of safety concerns.

She is no longer able to work too.

“Even my business partners, when they see me, they hurl hateful words,” said Zawadi, speaking in her home where she spends hours every day with her two young children, following the latest developments on her phone.

In early June, a video that circulated widely showed some men, armed with machetes and faces wrapped in Congolese flags, loitering on a Kinshasa street in front of a Rwandan-owned shop.

Another video, shot during a protest in the city on May 30, showed a crowd cheering as a picture of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, defaced with a Hitler-like moustache and swastika, was torched.

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