20 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Thousands Flee As Rebels Advance On Goma

As a rebel advance reaches the outskirts of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of people have fled, leaving villages and displaced persons camps empty.

"The atmosphere in the city is tense, people are worried," said Grace Tang, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) head of mission based in Goma. "The fighting that for months has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes elsewhere in the region has now reached Goma's doorstep."

Around 60,000 people - many of whom had previously been displaced - fled Kanyaruchinya camp, where MSF is working, in panic. The camp is now empty. Most people have now reached the Mugunga I, Mugunga III and Lac Vert camps or headed south to camps in Minova and Kirotche in the neighbouring province, South Kivu.

Medical teams in these camps report thousands of new arrivals since yesterday. People are desperate to be registered. Conditions in many camp locations are poor and there has been a lack of food distribution. MSF is providing healthcare and water and sanitation services in Lac Vert and Mugunga I camps.

MSF teams are ready to respond to additional medical and humanitarian needs. Extra medical staff - including surgeons - and supplies are on their way in case of further fighting and displacement. MSF's cholera treatment centre in Goma is preparing for an increase in patients as tens of thousands of people arrive and set up camp in and around the city.

Elsewhere in eastern Congo, MSF continues to provide free healthcare in many hospitals, health centres and health posts in Rutshuru, Kayna, Masisi, Mweso, Kitchanga, Walikale and Pinga. MSF also manages a number of cholera treatment centres, mobile clinics and emergency response activities.

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