from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – CIVILIANS displaced by the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have retold the horror they have endured amid ongoing displacements.
From a mother grieving from the murder of her husband and two of their children, to a father depressed by the abduction of his wife and two sons aged nine and eleven years and unknowing if they are still alive, the crisis is having a gruesome impact on young and old.
Concern Worldwide, the humanitarian organisation, which is helping thousands of families living in extreme poverty after fleeing their homes as the terror continues, documented the attacks.
“One mother we are supporting said her husband and two of their eight children were killed during an attack at their village in North Kivu,” said Concern’s DRC Country Director, Antoine Sagot-Priez.
The victims’ home was set on fire as militants ran rampage.
Another survivor of a village attack, a 50-year-old cocoa farmer and father-of-ten, retold how his wife and two sons (mentioned above) were kidnapped.
“He has no idea if they survived,” Sagot-Priez said.
During their night-time attack, the father was luckily able to get his remaining children, aged six to 19, to safety with relatives.
“The people we provide humanitarian assistance to in Oicha have been affected by the conflict generated by the presence of an extremely violent armed group,” Sagot-Priez lamented.
The March 23 (M23) is involved in deadly skirmishes with the Congolese Army east of the country. Fighting has continued despite a ceasefire announced on March 7.
Over 500 000 people have been displaced in recent months.
“The situation in the east of the country is escalating with settlements for internally displaced people growing by the day as separate conflicts continue involving armed groups,” Sagot-Priez said.
Africa’s second largest country and one of the poorest in the world, DRC has Africa’s largest displaced population with 5,6 million people made homeless due to conflict inside its borders.
In addition, it hosts 500 000 refugees from neighbouring countries.
Over 27 million people are food insecure.
An estimated 4,2 million people have acute malnutrition, more than half of them children under five-years-old.
Over 1,7 million are pregnant and lactating mothers.
The former Zaire, which has a population of over 108 million people, has failed to benefit from its vast natural resources because of incessant conflicts since independence in 1960.
Elections set for later this year are forecast to worsen the crises.
– CAJ News