More than 760,000 people have fled their homes in eastern Congo since the start of 2012 due to renewed insecurity and violent conflict. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been plagued by conflict for many years, but increasing violence in the east of the country has resulted in a rapidly deteriorating situation with severe humanitarian consequences.
The Congolese army is responding to the worsening insecurity and conflict but unfortunately this has allowed rebel groups and militia to reassert their control, often attacking and abusing civilians, many of whom have been left without protection. Whole stretches of the country have been taken by a complex patchwork of armed groups, prompting a battle for control over land and resources, and exacerbating ethnic tensions.
Oxfam is providing emergency support to some of the people worst affected, adapting our work to deal with a rapidly escalating crisis.
What Oxfam is doing
As well as working with refugees who have fled to Rwanda and Uganda, we have been responding to needs in three sites for internally displaced
people (IDPs) near Goma since July, providing water and sanitation to people who’ve fled the fighting, and cash distributions to help people buy food.
As a result of the most recent outbreaks of fighting, there are now as many as 120,000 people in need of urgent help, not to mention millions living in fear. An influx into Goma and camps to the west of the city is putting massive strain on food and water supplies. Oxfam has stepped up our response to reach more than 80,000 people in and around Goma with life-saving aid.
Oxfam’s humanitarian coordinator Tariq Riebl says: “The past few days’ fighting has pushed a serious crisis over the edge. We think there are now as many as 120,000 people who need help. Many have fled from other camps, and there are very few safe places for them to go.”
Media release: Oxfam steps up response to growing crisis in eastern Congo
We also work in several areas across North and South Kivu, providing water, sanitation and protection programs — helping communities get their rights in the absence of adequate protection from the state and MONUSCO — and delivering food in some camps.
In southwest Uganda there has been an influx of an estimated 34,000 people from DRC. We are providing clean water and sanitation to newly arrived families in the Rwamwania Refugee Camp. We are drilling boreholes to ensure the camp residents have safe water and we are also working with communities to construct latrines, distribute soap and help spread the messages of good health practice. We have also started a special cash-for-work program, paying residents to rehabilitate roads.
Approximately 20,000 refugees have fled the DRC into Rwanda and Oxfam is once again providing life saving water and sanitation — building latrines, setting up washing stations and supporting health campaigns using drama and songs for more than 14,000 refugees. We handed these activities over to a local partner in October 2012.