IRC Firewood Distribution Interrupted as IDPs Flee Camp in Panic
The camp, housing around 75,000 displaced civilians, emptied rapidly as families loaded belongings on their heads and fled toward Goma, about 10 kilometers south.
IRC has been in Kibati camp since Thursday morning distributing firewood to residents. Due to continued fighting throughout the afternoon on Friday, IRC evacuated non-essential staff from Goma. IRC teams will resume activities in Kibati as soon as security allows and IDPs return to the camp.
The distribution of firewood, which takes place parallel to provision of food, is designed to mitigate the risk of violence if women and girls leave the camp to search for firewood.
The rate of sexual violence has been extremely high throughout the conflict in eastern DRC. The IRC has programs in North and South Kivu that provide victims of violence access to medical and psychological assistance.
Recent fighting and displacement have cut women and girls off from critical services, creating concern for their well-being and safety. The IRC is currently seeking to assess needs in order to continue providing much-needed assistance to victims of violence.
Approximately 250,000 civilians have been displaced since August, when renewed hostilities broke out between the Congolese government and rebel forces let by Gen. Laurent Nkunda's. Violence peaked in late October, causing a swell of new displacement around Goma and cutting an estimated 50,000 people in the Rutshuru territory off from humanitarian aid.
IRC's emergency interventions in North Kivu are addressing urgent needs, including provision of safe water and sanitation services in areas that have already been affected by cholera.
The panic seen in Kibati camp on Friday demonstrates the region's volatility and the situation of extreme duress in which civilians find themselves in eastern Congo. Despite the persistent instability, IRC continues to seek access to civilians uprooted by conflict with life-saving assistance.