People sit on a truck in the Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunagana, an area controlled by M23 rebels fighting against government forces in eastern Congo, near the border of Uganda October 19, 2012. Credits: REUTERS/James Akena courtesy of AlertNet.org

People sit on a truck in the Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunagana, an area controlled by M23 rebels fighting against government forces in eastern Congo, near the border of Uganda October 19, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/James Akena courtesy of AlertNet.org

Caritas is expressing deep concern over the humanitarian situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo after rebels seized Goma, a city of over a million inhabitants.

‘M23’ rebel fighters took over the city 20 November, sparking an estimated 100,000 people to flee according to local caritas staff. Pockets of violence were reported in Goma and Bunia.

Caritas staff say that populations in Kasindi, Himbi and the relief camp in Kanyaruchinya have all fled to unknown destinations.

Goma was home to significant populations of people already displaced from their homes by earlier fighting between the rebels and government forces.

Caritas organisations working in eastern Congo have met to decide a coordinated humanitarian response trough the national confederation member Caritas Congo. Initially, this aid will go to people affected by the conflict in Goma, Bukavu and Butembo-Beni.

M23 rebels say they will continue the offensive. Caritas is making contingency plans for Bukavu.

Bishop Nicolas Djomo of Tshumbe and President of Congo’s Bishops Conference said that the situation in eastern Congo wass unacceptable.

“More than two million people have been forced from their homes by blind and unjustifiable violence,” said Bishop Djomo. “These people are the victims of murder, looting, sexual violence against women and children.”

Bishop Djomo thanked Caritas Internationalis on behalf of the Catholic Church for its work with the Congolese.

Contact Valerie Kaye, Communications Officer, at +39 06 698 797 57 or kaye@caritas.va.