Food reaches hungry in strife-torn eastern Congo

A week after World Vision programs were suspended in the wake of a rebel invasion of the eastern Congo city of Goma, World Vision has resumed distributions of food aid to displaced children and families.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published November 26, 2012 at 12:00am PST

People in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma and surrounding areas began to receive humanitarian aid again this past weekend, a week after M23 rebel fighters captured the major city.

Last week, World Vision evacuated staff from the city as the rebel group closed in. All World Vision program activities in Goma were suspended, adversely affecting almost 800,000 people.

Aid distribution resumes

On Saturday, World Vision began food distributions consisting of maize meal, beans, vegetable oil, and salt to 24,500 people.

The distributions are taking place at the Mugunga 1 and Lake Vert displacement camps, a few miles outside Goma.

Over the weekend, distributions also took place at two primary schools within Goma. The schools are sheltering hundreds of families displaced by the current conflict.

World Vision is negotiating with the World Food Program to secure more food to meet the needs of a hungry population.

We also hope to resume activities to improve water and sanitation for displaced populations and open Child-Friendly Spaces to help children recover from their traumatic experiences.

Grim conditions, hungry children

Dominic Keyzer, World Vision’s advocacy manager who is assisting with the distributions, says conditions in the camps are grim, with residents living in makeshift huts of sticks and grass that offer no protection from heavy tropical rains that fall almost daily.

As fighting raged through the area, soldiers stole plastic sheeting that camp residents had been using to try to weatherproof their huts.

Dominic says conditions in the more recently established Lake Vert camp were especially bad, with many children suffering from malnutrition.

During an assessment trip to the camp, he met a 13-year-old girl who had broken down crying because of hunger.

“She had not eaten in the last few days. She was living with her grandmother,” he says. “She had lost contact with her parents when they fled from their homes in Rutshuru a few months before.”

Dominic says currently the situation remains calm in Goma, and rebel troops have generally allowed humanitarian operations to resume unhindered. But he says a major impediment to aid operations is the closure of the Goma airport.

“Humanitarian flights are absolutely essential to [provide] support [in] a situation like this,” he says.

Two ways you can help

Pray for the protection of children and families caught in the conflict crossfire. Pray for the safety of World Vision staff, and pray that World Vision and other organizations would be able to continue serving those in need.

Make a one-time gift to help assist Congolese children and families impacted by the violence. Your gift will help provide desperately needed food, healthcare, and supplies to Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Uganda, as well as internally displaced Congolese families.