IRC expands emergency response in eastern Congo
Thousands of people displaced by recent fighting between rebels and the Congolese army have flocked to this makeshift camp on a hardened lava field on the outskirts of Goma. Africa's most active volcano, Nyiragongo, is just a few miles away.
Photo: Sinziana Demian/IRC
The International Rescue Committee is expanding its emergency response as uncertainty reigns in the violence-wracked North and South Kivu provinces of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
By mid-December, United Nations investigators said they already had documented at least 126 cases of rape in Minova, a town near Goma. IRC teams are responding to a high number of sexual violence cases in the camps in and around Goma as well, providing counseling and medical care.
“Not one day has gone by without women coming forward to seek help for the violence they have experienced,” Bain says.
In addition to the immediate concerns for the safety of people affected by the conflict, there is the longer-term threat of a food shortage.
“Because of all the fighting this year, people have missed planting seasons,” Bain explains. “And the few grains and stocks they were able to store have been stolen.”
The IRC is procuring supplies for children in hard-hit northern Goma, where malnutrition is rising at an alarming rate. We also are working with partner aid agencies and the United Nations to distribute relief supplies such as cooking pots, blankets and jerry cans for water to more than 110,000 people in the camps around the city.
The violence has taken a toll on education as well. Families able to return to their villages are finding their children’s schools damaged and looted. IRC teams have refurbished 25 school buildings and are distributing school supplies to students and teachers. They expect to complete work on 20 more schools in the next month.
The IRC will continue to scale up our humanitarian response in North and South Kivu over the coming weeks, focusing on emergency food, primary health care, cholera prevention and treatment, clean water and sanitation, and assistance for survivors of sexual violence.