DR Congo

DR Congo: North Kivu emergency response - Activity report

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IRC has ongoing emergency response activities in and around Goma, and is currently still operating in Kibati IDP camp, pending the decision about transfer of IDPs to Mugunga. IRC teams also maintain a presence in Masisi Territory to the northwest of Goma (Sake and Kitchanga). The IRC emergency, GBV and health teams send a team back to Rutshuru Territory, security permitting, in coming days.

Firewood distribution: Distribution of firewood is nearly finished in Kibati IDP camp. The final population figures for the total distribution will be around 9,600 households; this is lower than originally estimated due to fluid population movements to and from the camp. The IRC team is currently carrying out focus groups in order to better understand how long 25 kilograms of wood distributed per households will last.

The firewood distribution, funded by Stichling Vluchteling, was interrupted on Nov. 7th when gunfire broke out near the camp and caused widespread panic. IRC teams were forced to evacuate the camp rapidly due to active fighting, and therefore lost an estimated 400 stacks of wood (serving 800 families) that had been unloaded from trucks.

It is presumed that parties to hostilities on Friday later carried away the firewood. Distribution of firewood is a means of mitigating the risk for civilians, particularly women and girls, who would otherwise be forced to seek resources outside the camp. IRC's emergency and GBV teams are working together to evaluate more sustainable solutions to help prevent these risks.

Rapid response management: The RRM team completed assessments in Goma and Kitchanga and released the reports on Nov. 12th. The following table gives an overview of the assessment results in each location.

GOMA
IDPs in public sites
1,078 households
IDPs staying with families
5,617 households
KITCHANGA AREA
IDPs displaced between Jan. 2007 and July 2008
20,149 households
IDPs newly displaced since Sept 2008
5,566 households

In Goma, IDPs staying with families were found to be less vulnerable than those staying in public sites; but there is the potential of tension between these two groups in the future due to discrepancies in access to humanitarian aid.

In Kitchanga area, IDPs are subsisting by working in the fields of people from the region, earning a typical salary of less than 300 Franc Congolese per day. Others return to their villages of origin to search for food, but in doing so risk threats by armed groups. IDPs also leave the camp in search of firewood, often walking between three and five hours to collect wood. This activity puts women and girls at risk in a zone that is highly militarized.

Water and sanitation: IRC continues focusing on water and sanitation activities in program areas northwest of Goma, in Masisi Territory, as well as camps and public sites in and around the provincial capital. This includes participation in cholera response activities, which is increasingly important as the rainy season progresses. As a result of the ongoing cholera threat, IRC is continuing sanitation activities (disinfection, construction of latrines) and hygiene promotion in affected areas.

Health: The IRC health director and deputy health advisor are in Goma and have started to assess areas of need and possible intervention, as well as to work on a strategy for returning to the Rwanguba health zone in Rutshuru Territory. The Health team has received news that health facilities are functioning in Rwanguba and the hospital still has a stock of medicines, but staff are waiting to receive incentives.

Education: IRC has nearly completed an education intervention that was underway on the Ishasha axis prior to recent fighting, with the construction of 11 temporary classrooms, one classroom rehabilitation and the construction of 32 latrines for six primary schools. The team has also started a rapid re-evaluation of 24 schools targeted for intervention; activities will depend on population movements and areas of greatest need.

GBV: The Emergency Response Team's GBV coordinator arrived in Goma on Nov. 9th and has held meetings with key partners in order to better understand services currently available. The GBV team, in cooperation with Reproductive Health staff, started assessment activities on Nov. 12th in order to gain insight into risks faced by women and girls, and how and where survivors access services.

Sexual violence is a dominant concern for IDPs in camps outside Goma, and for displaced communities still inaccessible to humanitarian agencies in Rutshuru Territory. Providing critical emergency assistance to women and girls who have survived violent incidents is a priority area of programming for IRC across North and South Kivu.