DRC: Helping displaced communities in Goma

26 December, 2012
20 December 2012: Displaced children at La Poste IDP camp in Minova, South Kivu. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes
20 December 2012: Displaced children at La Poste IDP camp in Minova, South Kivu. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes

In mid-November, fighting between the Congolese army and the M-23 rebel group in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), displaced more than 130,000 people, with thousands fleeing 50 km south towards Minova in South Kivu. Scores of people were injured, including children.

“I was fetching water and suddenly I heard a loud noise. I was hurt and was rushed to the Motherly Love hospital,” recalled 12-year-old Fanny, sitting on her hospital bed. In another Goma neighbourhood, a young boy, Elie, lost his left arm.

“With gunshots everywhere, I decided to hide in a house. A mortar fell on the house, my arm was hurting very badly,” he said.

Soon after the mid-November attack, the children were brought to a hospital run by Heal Africa, one of the many humanitarian organizations providing aid to people affected by conflict in DRC. Some 133 people were treated between 19 November and 10 December, according to Heal Africa’s chief doctor.

Following days of limited mobility due to the heavy fighting, aid organizations have stepped up relief efforts. The Goma airport has re-opened, meaning food, cooking supplies, medicine, school materials and aid personnel can enter the area. On 8 December, Humanitarian Coordinator Moustapha Soumare travelled to Goma with more than two tons of therapeutic milk and medicine.

Aid response is being rolled out in all sectors. Thousands of people have received food aid since the beginning of December and the World Food Programme is airlifting some 92 tons of high-energy biscuits. Thousands of litres of clean water and other relief items are being distributed, vaccination campaigns are underway, hundreds of schools are being refurbished and classes are being planned for thousands of children.

However, the aid effort is conducted in a volatile security climate. During his visit to Goma, Mr. Soumare visited the Mugunga III camp for internally displaced people (IDP), which had been attacked by armed men who looted food and belongings. They also raped women. Mr. Soumare visited several families, many of whom told him that what they needed most was peace.  

The protection of civilians, including aid workers, and the security of IDP sites and camps remain priorities for the aid community. Among other actions, OCHA has dispatched a protection expert to discuss these priorities with provincial authorities, representatives from the UN peacekeeping mission and humanitarian partners.

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Reporting by Vicky Prekabo/ OCHA DRC


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