31 July 2012

Africa: Refugees: We Do Not Dare To Go Home

press release

Photo: Marie Cacace/Oxfam
The UN reports that more than two million people are now displaced across the DR Congo, the highest figure the country has seen since 2009.

Thousands of people are now seeking refuge in Kibati, Nyiragongo territory, on the outskirts of Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Oxfam will be responding to the situation in Kibati camp by trucking clean water to the community living there.

The recent influx of internally displaced people here is the direct consequence of the conflict that continues to devastate the country.

The UN reports that more than two million people are now displaced across the DRC, the highest figure the country has seen since 2009.

Hundreds of people continue to arrive each day in Kibati.

As we arrive, waves of people continue to flood the already overcrowded make-shift camp. They carry the little they manage to salvage when they fled their homes.

"We were working in the fields when we heard shooting and there were bullets around us. So we ran away with just the clothes on our backs - we have nothing. We heard news that four of our neighbors, who tried to return to save some of their belongings, were shot dead. We do not dare go home. It took two days for me, my husband and three children to get here and we have not eaten since we arrived here on Monday, we do not know what we are going to do," said Jeanne, 26 years old.

Those who can have sought shelter in schools, churches and host families but many people we talk with have spent their nights under the elements.

Only 13% of water needed is currently being provided to the camp and cramped conditions mean that the risk of disease spreading is almost certain.

"The rain last night saved us. We are lucky; had it not been for the downpour we would have had nothing to drink for another day," says a group of people now living in the local school.

We speak to a doctor at the local health center - the only medical facility for the 23,770 people who live in this area. With the recent arrival of thousands of people the already stretched health center cannot cope. The doctor tells us that many children are arriving with severe cases of diarrhea. With little or nothing to eat and few sources of clean water, he fears the worst for them. "There is no cholera yet but in these conditions there is a huge possibility it will come," he says.

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InFocus

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The United Nations' top humanitarian official, Valerie Amos, called for increased support for the nearly half a million Congolese who have been displaced by fighting between ... Read more »