World Vision, a relief and development agency has for the last two months been responding to immediate food and water needs of about 70,000 people coming from Bunia and the villages around it. During the same period, Merlin, another NGO has provided the much- needed survival kits and health care.
The newly displaced people wandering in this forested region of Congo are in need of food, clean water, shelter, drugs, clothing, blankets, kitchenware and utensils. Philippe Guiton, World Vision Africa Relief team leader will visit Beni this week to offer technical support.
The tribal conflict that has rendered hundreds of thousands homeless is exacerbated by a wider political conflict, mainly between warring rebel factions: the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD ML Kisangani) of Mbusa Nyamwisi and the Movement for Liberation of Congo (MLC), led by Jean Pierre Bemba.
Each of the warring parties seeks to control the resource-rich areas of Ituri where Bunia is found and North Kivu provinces where Beni and Goma are located. The influx of people moving from trouble spots in Beni, Butembo and Angita is believed to have risen to 200,000 people.
Bemba's MLC overrun Eringeti 50 km north of Beni and held it for three days. More than 14,000 IDPs are holed up in Eringeti. Around the same time, the Mai Mai warriors raided a prison in Beni, an action, which was characterised by heavy shooting in town.
Until recently, World Vision has been the only active relief agency working in the Beni area. This time, however, World Vision worked with other NGOs: Merlin, Solidarite and Medecine Sans Frontieres to plan for the reception of expected IDPs.
"With support from ECHO (EU), Unicef, the government of Germany, World Vision Germany, World Vision Hong Kong and World Food Programme we have continued with the distribution of food and non food items, provision of shelter, clean water and sanitation facilities in addition to nutrition and sanitation programmes. With additional displacements there is need for more support," Njelango explains.
A recent agreement among the varied factions involved in the conflict in eastern Congo on power sharing has been received with optimism. In fact, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel who visited the region recently appealed to the international community to make a strong offer concerning the demobilisation and reintegration of former soldiers.