DR Congo

Hundreds of Congolese return to their homes rather than risk starvation

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Many displaced Congolese are returning to their villages rather than risk starvation in the refugee camps.

ActionAid workers have witnessed hundreds of men, women and children climbing into trucks near Kibathi camp to return to their homes - or what is left of them - in war-ravaged eastern Congo.

Muamba, a displaced Congolese woman, waiting to climb onto one of the trucks said: "Instead of dying of hunger here, we prefer to die in our own village. It is not safe here, especially for women."

Those leaving said they were doing so because of the shortage of space in the camps. Overcrowding has forced many to sleep on rocks and go hungry, as food supplies run out.

Alpha Sankoh, ActionAid DRC Country Director, said: "Funding is now a key concern. The issue of displaced people returning to unsafe areas under the control of rebels is really worrying. They're not receiving the much needed food and other vital supplies such as clothing and medication."

Hakizimana Faustin, together with his family and children, has chosen to return to Rugari, where many have fled from the fierce fighting.

"I am going back because of hunger," he said. "There is no peace in my village, but even here there is shooting every night. The camp is full and we have to live outside."

The authorities are trying to move us to other camps but there we think we would die of hunger. People are not getting enough food."

Kibathi camp was originally constructed to accommodate 2,500 people, rather than the 65,000 who are seeking protection, shelter and food.

ActionAid is a member of the UK national appeal. To donate visit www.dec.org.uk or phone 0370 60 60 900.

ENDS

For further information contact Jane Moyo, ActionAid UK +44 (0)7734 023347

High resolution photographs of people leaving the camps and children gleaning for flour from left over food rations are available on request.

ActionAid has been distributing maize, flour, beans and salt to 1,000 people in and around Goma in the past two weeks.

ActionAid is a member of the UK national appeal and donations can be made via www.dec.org.uk or 0370 60 60 900.

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together