DR Congo

DR Congo: A little new light

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D.R. Congo - As thousands flee vicious attacks from the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in D.R. Congo's Dungu Territory, a young woman clings to a moment of light in the tragic darkness.

On 24 September, a group of LRA rebels invaded the village of Kiliwa. They injured many people, looted the village, and took the chief as a hostage. The inhabitants ran for their lives. Among them was Kinalegu, the 22-year-old daughter of the village chief. She was in her last days of pregnancy.

For many hours, Kinalegu ran desperately through the jungle to save her life and the life of her unborn child. At last, she arrived in Dungu city, completely exhausted and traumatised. Only then did she learn that her father had been killed.

In Dungu, Medair's health supervisors continue to witness more and more displaced people arriving in the city, all running from violence in their home villages. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated that between 43,000 and 100,000 people were fleeing in Dungu territory.

"Many people are traumatised because of the violent and aggressive incidents committed by the LRA," says a Medair health supervisor in Dungu. "People have seen their wives and daughters abused and raped, their family members and neighbors injured or killed."

In late September, Kinalegu found a family in Dungu who opened their home for her to stay, along with 12 other internally displaced people (IDPs) inside a small hut. After only a few days, the IDPs came to realise that their welcoming family simply did not have the means to keep supporting them. All that was left was a little bit of rice, palm oil, and some manioc leaves. Kinalegu was filled with deep sorrow - with no means of support, how would she pay for the birth of her child?

While Kinalegu and thousands of other IDPs came face-to-face with their desperate situations, Medair worked on-site to provide timely emergency relief. With resources made available from our Emergency Fund, 450 kilograms of essential medicines were swiftly sent from Isiro to Dungu, a three-day trek by 4x4. Jean de Dieu Mopanga, the coordinator for Medair's health supervisors, delivered the medicines to Dungu personally, and then, in collaboration with the health zone, began distributing them for free to health clinics in need.

Word started to spread that Medair was providing free medical treatment to IDPs, and soon it reached the ears of Kinalegu. She felt an immediate relief because she knew her baby would wait no longer. On 3 October, in the Medair-supported health centre of Bakote, Kinalegu gave birth to a small and healthy baby boy.

"I cannot find any words to express my gratitude for the help of Medair," said Kinalegu. "I did not know how to pay for the birth when I arrived here in Dungu. Nothing can compensate for the loss of my father, but the birth of my son brought a little new light into my life."

Medair remains one of the only international NGOs providing the territory of Dungu with free medicine and medical assistance. Our supervisors are on-site to monitor the situation of the displaced people and to assist them through this harrowing time.

"Medair was the first NGO that reacted to our appeal for help," said District Commissioner Kyonie Ngoie, expressing his "deepest gratitude" to our organisation. "Medair sent important humanitarian assistance by providing medical care for our battered brothers and sisters. The authorities of the district would like to see Medair continuing their intervention with essential medicines and other support to assist this displaced population [in] a very difficult period."

Since 1998, the International Rescue Committee estimates that an astonishing 5.4 million people have died in DRC from war-related causes, particularly from hunger and disease. For 11 years, Medair has provided emergency relief and rehabilitation in the country for millions of suffering people, and has been called, "the most respected organisation in the entire region." Now, with violent conflict tragically escalating once again, Medair applies our expertise from over a decade of experience to bring urgent life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable of DRC.

Medair brings life-saving relief and rehabilitation in disasters, conflict areas, and other crises by working alongside the most vulnerable. Our internationally recruited staff are motivated by their Christian faith to care for people in need, providing practical and compassionate support, regardless of race, religion, or politics. Founded in 1989, Medair has an unwavering commitment to bring hope to the world's most vulnerable.