DR Congo

DRC: North Kivu: From Goma, sister Giovanna for refugees, children and AIFO

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"We have had two terrible days, in which the national army looted and carried out executions and violations of all sorts. There is uncertainty, fear... we pray that the war ends soon!" wrote from Goma, capital of North Kivu, east Democratic Republic of Congo, Sister Giovanna Gallicani, collaborator of Project AIFO (Italian Association Friends of Raoul Follereau) for children, launching an appeal for the assistance of the people fleeing the war zones. "The incessant exodus of the displaced that have abandoned their villages - says an AIFO statement - almost all torched, extends like a river toward Goma that can no longer meet the needs of the population. They are two-million people camped in makeshift assistance sites where everything is lacking: food, water and medicine. Since 2004 AIFO has worked with the Fathers of Charity of the Mental Health Center of Goma, which each year hosts, protects and cares for 750 children until the age of 14. They are children with neuropsychiatric problems lined to war traumas. Many areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo have lived in a constant situation of war for over 14 years, though the camera lights of the public opinion have only turned on in these past days. Wars like that of DR-Congo, with a level of widespread violence on the defenceless population, leave in their paths thousands of seriously traumatised children for having personally experienced violence or witnessed violence against their families. The Mental Health Center established an apposite section to assist them on a medical psychiatric level, but also educational and social. The Children's Ambulatory also treats epilepsy. Due to the dramatic humanitarian situation, the number of children arriving at the Center has tripled in the past weeks and because of the closing of the borders with neighbouring Rwanda, the Fathers have run out of medical supplies, with grave consequences also for the children already in care. The Small Daughters Congregation of the nearby Ndosho parish, to which Giovanna belongs, collaborates with the Center and is assisting all the people camped in the area in hope of receiving help. Unfortunately everything is lacking and providing supplies is difficult. Through its national coordination office in Kinshasa, directed by Freddy Sanduku, AIFO - conclude the note - will provide the Mental Health Center of Goma with basic necessities and medicine. More than 2,000 children are in need of food, water, blankets and medical care".

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