Oxfam begins to double its aid effort in eastern Congo

By mborum

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GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO — International aid agency Oxfam is to double its aid effort and help nearly 200,000 people caught up in the recent upsurge of fighting in eastern Congo.

Oxfam is currently delivering aid to approximately 85,000 people, and staff have been assessing several camps around the town of Goma as part of the scale-up process.

Oxfam?s Rebecca Wynn visited Kibati camp, four kilometers north of Goma, where around 7,000 displaced people are living in tarpaulin and banana-leaf shelters.

She said, ?The lull in the fighting has allowed us to assess what is needed and make plans to double our aid effort. The cease-fire has to hold if people are to get the aid they desperately need. At Kibati camp people have basic latrines and water pumps, but these are dirty and need to be maintained if we are to prevent disease spreading.?

Wynn continued, ?The people here don?t have food and they are hungry. Some people are going into the banana fields around the camp which is very dangerous because there are drunk soldiers around. They?re risking their lives but they are hungry and desperate.

?Many people are still arriving but others are risking leaving. They want to go home. They told me, ?We don?t want to be here. Why do we have to live in plastic shelters when we have houses?? But going home is a risk. They have the choice of staying here and being hungry or risking their lives going home,? added Wynn.

Wynn noted aid work could be stopped at any time.

"It's still tense. There is a ceasefire, but that ceasefire could break. There's still a real need for other countries to keep piling on the diplomatic pressure,? Wynn said.

Oxfam currently works in four camps in Goma, where it helps 65,000 people, and trucks water to 20,000 people in Kanyabayonga, north of Goma. It is plans to help an extra 100,000 people in area to the north and west of Goma.

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