Congo: Hundreds of thousands displaced

24/07/2012

Caritas Australia News Story
Photo: Caritas Congo

The recent displacement of more than 200,000 people as fighting spreads across the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has caused a humanitarian crisis that threatens critical development programs in the region.

People fleeing ongoing violence between M23 rebels and the DRC’s army, the FARDC, have been forced to take refuge in public places including schools, churches and with host families.

“They have been cut off from regular sources of income, access to goods and many have had to abandon their livelihoods,” Caritas Australia Africa Program Coordinator Lulu Mitshabu said.

“The situation in the Congo is deteriorating and people are in desperate need of emergency food assistance. Worse still, many of these people have been forced to leave successful long-term development programs in communities where they had relative safety, access to shelter, food, clean water and livelihoods.

“This displacement could have a devastating impact on these programs and many may have to start again.”

M23 takes its name from 23 March 2009, the date of peace agreements that put an end to fighting between government troops and the Tutsi-led National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels.

The CNDP soldiers integrated into the army as part of that deal, but those fighters now claim the government did not observe the terms of the agreement and launched M23.

M23 has already taken control of Bunagana city on the Ugandan border. They also turned to the areas of Rutshuru, Kiwanga and villages along the way including Rumangabo, Kalengera, and Rubare. There are fears that M23 will target the city of Goma.

Caritas Australia is providing food relief to 1500 households as well as displaced people in the Northern Province of Kivu, located in the parish of Rugari and Kabaya in the territory of Rutshuru.

“They are in desperate need of emergency food assistance. This proposal supports the provision of maize flour, vegetable oil, beans and salt for two weeks to 1500 households settled in foster homes, schools and churches,” Ms Mitshabu said.

“With so many in need, this program will give priority to the most vulnerable, particularly child-headed households, women, the elderly and disabled.”

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