Fighting took place last week in the area of Rutshuru, forcing vast numbers of people to flee in the direction of Lubero and towards the Ugandan border, especially the town of Nyamilima and the village of Ishasha. There have been reports of serious depredations committed by bearers of weapons against the civilian population: murder, rape and looting.
Violent clashes also occurred in the area of Ngungu, in the territory of Masisi, trapping hundreds of civilians between the warring factions.
In Kibati, 15 km north-east of Goma, over 50,000 displaced persons and residents are just a few metres from the belligerents' positions, placing them in immediate danger should fighting resume.
It is estimated that around 250,000 people have been displaced since fighting resumed on 28 August.
A large percentage of the newly-displaced people, together with tens of thousands of people displaced previously in the area of Goma (at Kibati, Saké and Bweremana) and the area of Minova, South Kivu, are in an extremely vulnerable position. Most have had to flee on a number of occasions already since September, some as many as eight times. These families are absolutely destitute, and are in a desperate situation.
They are living under grossly unhygienic conditions, their health is deteriorating and both diarrhoea and cholera are on the increase.
Many families have become split up as they fled, and hundreds of children in the camps have no adults from their families with them.
What the ICRC is doing
Security conditions are highly precarious, making it difficult for the ICRC to help people in North Kivu.
The area around Goma
Food and basic necessities
Some 50,000 people received food in the area of Kibati last week. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC have continued to help people here, distributing such basic items as cooking utensils, buckets, mats, soap, clothing and hoes to 34,000 people.
The amount of water that the ICRC distributes in Kibati's camps for displaced persons has risen from 60,000 litres a day to over 75,000.
The ICRC is delivering water to four water points, providing clean drinking water for over 30,000 displaced people living at sites with no infrastructure.
Volunteers from the Red Cross Society of the RDC are continuing sanitation work in Kibati camp. In particular, they are building latrines.
The ICRC is building shelters for displaced persons at Kibati. Over 700 people have already been given temporary accommodation, following the construction of three new hangars. The shortage of shelters is all the more worrying because at this time of year North Kivu is lashed by torrential rain.
Psycho-social assistance (counselling centres)
The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC are supporting two counselling centres in the displaced persons' camps at Kibati. These centres help the victims of psychological trauma and refer women who have suffered sexual violence to the Kanyarutshina health centre. The ICRC has supplied that centre with medicines for the emergency treatment of rape victims.
There are two other psycho-social centres supported by the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC in the displaced persons' camps located at Mugunga and Buhimba, west of Goma.
An ICRC medical team consisting of a surgeon, an anaesthetist, two nurses and a physiotherapist are treating seriously wounded civilians and soldiers in Goma.
Nyamilima - Ishasha (north-east of Rutshuru)
Over 17,000 displaced persons have received emergency food aid. The food, which consists of flour, palm oil, beans and salt, is enough for about ten days. Distribution of this food was made possible by numerous volunteers from the Red Cross Society of the DRC.
Support for hospitals and health centres
The ICRC has provided Nyamilima hospital and the health centres at Nyamilima and Ishasha with the medical supplies and medicines needed to treat the sick and wounded.
The ICRC has also supplied medicines and disinfectant to fight cholera, as a number of cases have recently been reported in the area of Nyamilima.
Saké - Bweremana (west of Goma)
Working with the local Red Cross, the ICRC has been registering displaced persons and residents in the town of Saké and the village of Bweremana in preparation for distributing food in the next few days. Initial estimates suggest that over 50,000 civilians in this area need emergency aid. The food distribution will be organized in coordination with the World Food Programme, and will feed these people for a month.
On 13 November, the ICRC carried out emergency repairs to the water network near Saké, some 30 km from Goma. The pipes had been damaged during the recent fighting. As a result, 30,000 people (both displaced persons and residents) now have access to water again.
Lubero (North Kivu)
The ICRC intends to distribute food and basic necessities to several tens of thousands of displaced persons if security conditions allow.
The ICRC has made emergency deliveries of medicines and medical supplies to five medical facilities on the main routes taken by displaced persons, such as the hospitals at Lubero (North Kivu) and Minova (South Kivu).
An emergency water installation at Vitshumbi (south of Lake Edward) was installed in October and is being managed by a local Red Cross committee. This facility is producing some 70,000 litres of drinking water a day for displaced persons and the resident population.
Minova - South Kivu
Thousands of displaced persons have sought refuge in this region, and the ICRC has stepped up its operations here.
The ICRC has provided medical assistance to the hospital and a health centre.
Working with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ICRC is currently conducting en assessment prior to organizing emergency aid for displaced people here.
Several dozen children separated from their families while fleeing the fighting have been identified in the Goma area. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC are currently looking for their families.
The ICRC continues to monitor the situation facing the inmates of Goma prison. Last week, the organization delivered 11 tonnes of food (flour, oil, beans and salt) to the prison authorities. This is enough to feed the inmates for a week.