Conflict in Congo hits aid effort
28 October 2008
Caritas Congo has warned that thousands of people uprooted by violence and heading towards Goma are facing a lack of food, drinking water and hygiene facilities as the situation in eastern Congo deteriorates.
Increasing violence in North Kivu has limited humanitarian assistance to thousands of people – including many who fled violence in the town of Kibumba, north of Goma, which erupted on Monday morning.
Despite a peace deal signed in January, tensions between government troops and rebels have been high in North Kivu since the end of August and things are getting worse. Up to 200,000 people have been displaced by fighting in the past two months.
“The situation has deteriorated since last weekend and there was a great deal of violence yesterday [Monday],” said Camille Fauvet, head of emergency projects for Caritas France.
“The camps are full so many people have sought refuge with host families or in schools, churches or government buildings,” she said.
Caritas has reiterated the appeal for US$1.5 million that it launched at the beginning of October to help provide urgent assistance to 90,000 people in eastern Congo. It says urgent help is needed as the situation is deteriorating day by day.
“The world should mobilise itself to stop this tragedy and those responsible should be held accountable,” said Pierre Cibambo, Africa Liaison Officer for Caritas Internationalis.
“The only solution for the over two million displaced people is increased security so that they can return to their villages to cultivate their lands and live a normal life,” he said.
Ms Fauvet warns that the current insecurity is stopping people from tending to and harvesting their crops and will impact on food security.
“The fighting started up again during a period in which crops need the most attention. The yield will sharply drop this season,” she said.
Any crops that do survive, will not necessarily reach the vulnerable people of North Kivu.
“Cassava fields that have been abandoned since people fled will be harvested by armed groups,” she said.