DR Congo

DR Congo: Goma: As many as 20% of displaced families may be headed by single mothers

Goma, DR Congo, Nov. 24, 2008 - The ongoing conflict in North Kivu is tearing families apart and leaving an increasing number of mothers to care for their children alone. Forced to flee from their home villages, single mothers are struggling to cope away from their traditional support systems of family and neighbours.

"We're seeing that as many as 20 per cent of the displaced families in Goma may be headed by single mothers," said John LaPointe, CARE's Emergency Coordinator in Goma. "Women have been separated from their husbands, or their husbands have been killed in the fighting or recruited into the army or rebel forces."

In response, CARE is expanding its emergency intervention to help an additional 800 families who have fled the violence in North Kivu, with a particular focus on providing support for the disproportionate number of women-headed households. Distributions will include standard emergency supplies such as shelter materials, kitchen utensils, blankets and clothing; but CARE will also be providing safe delivery kits and feminine hygiene kits which include sanitary napkins and undergarments, and PEP kits (post-exposure prophylaxis kits for HIV) to health centres within Goma and along the northern Goma-to-Rubare axis.

As rape has become the devastating legacy of the war in the DR Congo, CARE and other agencies are working together to create a referral program for survivors of sexual violence, to ensure women receive prompt medical treatment and psychosocial support. In the heavily-affected area of Birambizo, North Kivu, CARE will be shortly starting a program to provide support to survivors of sexual violence, livelihoods activities, water and sanitation facilities, and rehabilitating health care centres, including the provision of medicines and training for health workers.

CARE has already distributed emergency supplies to more than 4,000 people in Goma. Construction of a cholera treatment centre, which CARE is operating in partnership with the aid agency Merlin, is complete and ready to accept patients.

About CARE: CARE is one of the world's largest independent aid organizations providing emergency relief and development projects in nearly 70 countries around the world. CARE has been working in the DRC since 2002, providing programs in the areas of health and nutrition, livelihoods, environmental protection, and good governance.

Media Contact:

Melanie Brooks, brooks@careinternational.org; mobile +41.795.903.047 (Geneva)

Lurma Rackley, lrackley@care.org; mobile +1 404 394 8298 (Atlanta, USA)