The ongoing fighting in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, has resulted in massive displacement of the population, with the majority having fled to Nyiragongo territory. At least 630,000 people have fled from their homes and 97% of the IDPs are in makeshift sites located in school and church compounds as well as stadiums. The displaced people are in dire need of food, shelter, sanitation facilities, essential household items, health services, and nutrition, especially for children, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.
CARE is concerned as the protracted situation has adversely impacted women and children. Currently, 51% of the IDPs are women, and more than 58% are under the age of 18.
Sidibe Kadidia Cisse, CARE International in DRC Country Director said, “At present 59,719 malnourished children are waiting for appropriate nutritional care, while 5,482 pregnant women need nutritional care. At the same time, over 2,000 cases of Gender-based Violence were reported. As people live in such dilapidated conditions and the recent flooding, we have witnessed a rise in the cases of cholera in the makeshift sites.”
”3,046 cases of cholera including 11 deaths were recorded since the epidemic’s beginning with new cases being reported in the Nyiragongo region. Most women are now left with the responsibility of taking care of their homes”, said Sidibe Kadidia Cisse, CARE International in DRC Country Director
Nabintu, a mother of five, is one of the many women who has had to step up to support her family during this time as she said:
“I was on the farm working when the conflict reached our home in Kibumba. I rushed back home to find my children and mother-in-law had fled and we reconnected in Mudja. Life here is quite hard. There is no sufficient food and when we work in the nearby farms, we get 2,000 francs ($1), which is not enough to feed us all.”
The conflict has also severely affected people living with disabilities such as 32-year-old Maria. Maria is handicapped and currently makes a merger living by selling firewood in the camp.
Due to the conflict, the cost of essentials such as cooking oil and basic food items has increased. Nabintu and Maria are just a couple of the 10,832 people in a makeshift IDP camp in Mudja who received food rations during a CARE International food distribution. Each home got 30 kilograms of maize flour, 10.5 kilograms of beans, 2.5 liters of cooking oil, and ½ kg of salt that would be able to support them for at least one month.
“I fled from Rugari while I was pregnant. For two days before giving birth, I had not eaten any food,” Maria narrated.
Much as this distribution was welcome, a lot more still needs to be done.
”The current situation needs more funding to reach the many more who are still in need. At present, only 42% of the current US$1.88 billion needed for the humanitarian response plan budget has been funded. We call upon the international community and donors to support communities enduring unimaginable anguish”, pleaded Sidibe Kadidia Cisse.
CARE International, alongside its partners, is continuing with response efforts in the affected region with food distributions as well as training on GBV prevention, COVID-19, and Ebola.