Hundreds of thousands at risk without food, shelter or medical care in North Kivu

1 “The whole family was working on the ground when the shooting started.

2 We fled and walked for three hours to Rumangabo in the rain,” says Ponsie Benda, 54.

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3 “We couldn’t go home.

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4 We left with what we had on us”.

5 As clashes between the M23 armed group and the Congolese army neared his village, the father of 13 found refuge at the primary school in Virunga National Park in Rumangabo in June. 190,000 people in need Like Ponsie, more than 190,000 people have had to flee their homes since the end of March 2022 in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories of North Kivu province, following the resurgence of the armed group M23 and intermittent clashes with the Congolese army. PONSIE BENDA (RIGHT), 54, HIS WIFE AND 13 CHILDREN WERE MOVED AFTER THE FIGHT CLOSER TO THEIR HOMETOWN “We slept outside.

6 I built this shelter with wooden sticks.

seven We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday.

8 My wife takes them from people’s fields, asking the owners first.

9 There is mutual aid because the community knows how much we suffer”.

ten Most people gathered along the national road linking Rutshuru to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, often in crowded places.

11 “We slept outside.

12 I built this shelter with wooden sticks.

13 I will look for banana leaves and eucalyptus to cover it.

14 That way, at least the children will be somewhat protected,” says Ponsie.

15 When he and his family arrived in Rumangabo, the school classrooms were already full and they had no choice but to move into the yard.

16 At the Rugabo stadium in the center of Rutshuru, more than 1,400 families gathered.

17 UNHCR has built community shelters, but despite everything, conditions remain extremely precarious: some 35 families share an 18 by 5 meter tent.

18 “When it rains, the water floods the floor of the shelters and we spend the night in the water,” says Agrippina N’Maganya, 53, who arrived in Rutshuru with six of her 10 children more than four months ago.

19 “The others must be in Uganda now…

20 I haven’t heard from them since the flight,” she said.

21 “The proximity of sites for internally displaced people (IDPs), combined with the lack of showers and latrines, is a major risk factor for the spread of infectious diseases such as measles or cholera,” explains Bénédicte Lecoq, emergency department of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). coordinator.

22 Stomachs are empty Lack of food adds to the lack of shelter.

23 “We have nothing to eat.

24 Sometimes people I know from my village give me food they have collected from the neighborhoods,” says Obed Mashabi, 20, who found refuge at the Rugabo stadium at the end of March.

25 “We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday,” adds Ponsie.

26 “My wife takes them from other people’s fields, asking the owners first.

27 There is mutual aid because the community knows how much we suffer.

28 They share what little they have. “The people we treat have empty stomachs,” says Lecoq.

29 “It is essential to increase food distributions, otherwise the situation could worsen.” At Rutshuru General Referral Hospital, the MSF-supported unit for severely malnourished children has been full for several weeks, with a bed occupancy rate of 140%.

30 In the health structures that our teams support in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, the average number of consultations often exceeds 100 per day.

31 The three main diseases observed are malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoea.

32 “Given the scale of the needs, our teams cannot be everywhere.

33 Health structures are overwhelmed and face a serious lack of medicines.

34 Faced with this emergency, more actors must be mobilized to ensure that all people can access care,” says Lecoq.

35 OBED MASHABI, 20, FOUND SHELTER AT RUGABO STADIUM END OF MARCH “We have nothing to eat.

36 Sometimes people I know in my town give me food they scavenge from the neighborhoods.

37 We have food in the village, in the fields, but we cannot go back.

38 The war continues there.

39 Everything must rot.

40 Beyond the immediate needs, the long-term consequences for affected communities are also of concern.

41 Most depend on agriculture, so lack of access to their fields for weeks or even months could worsen food insecurity for thousands of people in the region.

42 “We have food in town, in the fields, but we cannot go back.

43 The war continues there.

44 Everything must rot,” says Obed. Limited humanitarian aid Although the crisis has lasted for several months, Agrippina, Ponsie and Obed deplore the lack of humanitarian aid received so far.

45 “I never received any distribution of food, no bowls, no pots; nothing,” said Agrippina.

46 “Nobody came here.

47 If we had gotten help, we wouldn’t be like this,” adds Ponsie.

48 The recent outbreak of violence in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories worsens an already dire humanitarian situation with an estimated total of 1.6 million displaced people and more than 2.5 million people in need in North Kivu province in June 2022.

49 For Agrippina, the more the weeks pass, the more the hope of returning home diminishes.

50 “I have no hope of going home anytime soon.

51 There is no improvement,” she says.

52 Ponsie shares her discouragement.

53 “Why is there still war in North Kivu?

54 It’s not the first time we have to flee.

55 I don’t know how my children can grow up during the war.

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