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Dem. Rep. of Congo: food aid urgently needed
May 25, 2012

Dem. Rep. of Congo: food aid urgently needed
A group of displaced women and children waiting to enter the school in Mugunga where they have sought refuge from armed conflict. (Danilo Giannese/Jesuit Refugee Service)
"At the moment we can't think of returning to our village: the area is full of dead bodies, the homes have been destroyed and security has not yet been restored," she explained, her eyes focused on the ground.

(Goma) May 25, 2012 — When we met 38-year-old Faida Zahir, she was breastfeeding one-month-old Dorica. She was seated on a bench in a small Protestant church in Mugunga, a few kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Dorica and her mother were one of the 500 families who have found refuge in the church and the primary school next door.

They were fleeing heavy fighting between the Congolese army and hundreds of deserters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, the former general, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mugunga condemned the almost total lack of humanitarian assistance, particularly the distribution of food. Living conditions of the displaced population in Mugunga are extremely precarious.

"The last time that I ate, just a little corn, was more than 24 hours ago. Friends who live nearby gave me food, which I had to share with my seven children. But how can I continue to starve my family," asked Faida.

Faida has been living with the IDPs in Mugunga since the end of April. In Kashebere, where she used to live, she had a small plot of land to cultivate and a house where she could easily get by with her family. The fighting between the army and rebels has taken everything away, even her husband, and left her with nothing.

"At the moment we can't think of returning to our village: the area is full of dead bodies, the homes have been destroyed and security has not yet been restored," she explained, her eyes focused on the ground.

Urgent Jesuit Refugee Service food distribution

May 8, in the aftermath of the latest wave of displacement in North Kivu, JRS distributed five tons of corn, two tons of beans and 250kg of salt for approximately 1,100 families in the church and school that day.

"Apart from the JRS distribution, nobody has come to give us food. We are trying to find something to do, but it's really hard. We are suffering from hunger," said Masalio Chamolo, president of the displaced community.

"Given the exceptional circumstances, we decided to try and meet the urgent and huge needs of this population. Now, however, we hope that they will be moved to the recognised UN camps where they can receive official assistance," explained Romeo Cagatin svd, JRS DRC Director.

Since the JRS distribution, the number of families has fallen sharply, given that most have been able to return to their home villages, not far from Mugunga. The remaining families, according to plans adopted by the provincial authorities, should be able to move to Mugunga III, the official UN camp  where more than newly displaced 2,000 families (nearly 9,000 people) recently joined the 565 families who have been hosted there for many years.

The announcement of an official plan of assistance by the UN, including the distribution of energy biscuits, hot milk and other basic necessities, is expected in the next few hours.

Thanks to an agreement with the director of the Lac Vert primary school, 120 displaced children will be allowed attend school. JRS has acted to ensure they are provided with school materials such as copy books and pens. However, displaced children in Mugunga III still have not been able to return to school.


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Humanitarian emergency in the Dem. Rep. of Congo

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946