Thursday, February 08, 2024
Goma, DR Congo

Civilians under bombs, thousands displaced, children lost… Humanitarian organizations operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are sounding the alarm in the face of escalating conflict in the east of the country, where fighting continues.
In North Kivu in particular, fighting has intensified in the conflict that has pitted the M23 (“March 23 Movement”) rebels, supported by neighboring Rwanda, against the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) for over two years, in particular in association with armed groups known as “patriots” (“wazalendo”).
In recent weeks, “the increase in civilian casualties and the use of heavy weapons in populated areas, including in camps for displaced persons, are alarming”, warns the Forum of International NGOs in the DRC (FONGI-RDC).
“The conflict has triggered massive displacements to several localities, exacerbating the vulnerability of internally displaced people and host communities,” the Forum adds in a statement. “The situation demands urgent action to protect civilians and guarantee humanitarian access”, it says.
According to the NGO Save the Children, the resumption of fighting between the FARDC and the M23 has led since February 2 to “the displacement of at least 150,000 people, more than half of whom are children”.

In fleeing, many of these children “have been separated from their parents”, it adds.

The NGO Médecins sans Frontières reports that the medical facilities it supports in North Kivu “have received a massive influx of war-wounded in recent days”, at a time when “thousands of people are fleeing the latest waves of armed clashes”.

On Wednesday, thousands of displaced people arrived in Goma, fleeing the fighting around Sake. At least six civilians were killed and dozens more wounded.
“We saw children, pregnant women, the elderly and other vulnerable people arrive, out of breath and with nothing,” says Jacinthe Maarifa, head of programs at the NGO “Action globale et inclusive pour le développement de la RDC (AGIR-RDC)”, which has taken in these newly displaced people as best it can.
“They are crammed into schools and churches, and the needs are enormous”, he told AFP, appealing for help.
The DRC has a total of some 7 million internally displaced people, mainly in the east, a region that has been plagued by violence from armed groups for almost 30 years.

Humaniterre- source AFP

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