Update on Crisis in Eastern DRC: CRS Distributes Emergency Food
Catholic Relief Services, working with its local partner Caritas Goma, has begun distributing food to thousands in the city of Goma in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These include people who fled their outlying villages in late November due to fighting between the Congo Army and the rebel group M23 and then faced attacks, looting and rapes at their camp on Dec, 2, reportedly by M23 members.
“CRS is targeting nearly 10,000 people currently living in Mugunga III camp, providing enough food for one family for a period of 15 days for now,” said Brenden Williams, a CRS program manager, who is assisting with the emergency response in Goma. “These distributions allow families who lost their food reserves in the recent raid on the camp to replenish their stocks and feed their children.”
At another camp, distributions of other essential supplies, such as soap and buckets, is being prepared. Together, CRS and Caritas Goma will target 12,000 households with those items to prevent the spread of disease. CRS also plans to distribute seeds in the near future to those who return home so they can restart their lives.
While conditions in Goma are starting to return to normal after the withdrawal of M23 rebels and the arrival of government troops on Dec. 3, the humanitarian situation remains grave. As many as 130,000 people have been displaced by the recent violence and live in precarious conditions in camps around this city of one million.
The retreat of the M23 rebels has resulted in increased security, allowing banks and markets to reopen and economic activity to resume. But the situation remains fragile as rebels have threatened to retake the city if their demands aren’t met. Tens of thousands live in precarious conditions and are in critical need of food, water and safe shelter.
CRS international staff, previously evacuated to neighboring Rwanda, are now returning to Goma during the day to work with their national colleagues and CRS’ partners on the emergency response.
Fighting escalated in late November between government troops and the rebel group known as M23 as they advanced towards Goma, the provincial capital of more than one million people. Rebel fighters seized the town on Nov. 20. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes and are now living in camps in and around the city.
Millions of people throughout the DRC suffer from disease and hunger caused by ongoing conflicts and displacement. In a recent statement, Bishops of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) urged the Congolese government as well as the international community to respond to the needs of those affected by the violence. “We call on the government of our country, on all persons of good will, on humanitarian agencies and on the solidarity of the international community to respond with aid that matches the needs of hundreds of thousands of Congolese women and men in North Kivu upon whom such suffering was unjustly imposed.”