As the humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo grows, with thousands of people fleeing new fighting in the past 48 hours, Oxfam said it is stepping up the supply of life-saving aid to more than 80,000 people in and around Goma.
Oxfam trucks are today delivering vital clean water to people in Lac Vert camp, on the edge of Goma, many of whom have fled violence in Sake over the past few days. Oxfam teams have constructed 40 new latrines for 8,000 people sheltering in squalid conditions at the Don Bosco site in Goma city. With tens of thousands of people descending on Goma this week, and a lack of power in the city, there are serious shortages of water and better sanitation is urgently needed to prevent the spread of cholera.
Tariq Riebl, Oxfam’s humanitarian coordinator, said: “Conditions here are grim. Thousands of people are sheltering in schools and churches throughout the city, under plastic sheets hung from the walls. They have nothing, and they tell us they are hungry and tired.”
Oxfam teams are also setting up water systems for a new camp at Bulengo, to the west of Goma, which will shelter the overspill of people that have flooded into the Mugunga 1, Mugunga 3 and Lac Vert camps. An estimated 15,000 people are expected to move there in the coming days.
An Oxfam assessment team found people living with very little shelter, food or water. There are reports that the prices of staple foods have risen in recent days, and although food may be available in the markets many people are unable to afford it.
"We walked all day to get here from Sake," said Evelyne*, who is now staying at Lac Vert camp. "I came with my nine children and I had to tie them together so that I did not lose them. We are tired of always moving, and we are tired of the fighting."
The agency called on all parties to the conflict to ensure that people can safely access vital aid. Insecurity is hampering aid efforts, with ongoing fighting and attacks preventing aid workers from reaching some areas for prolonged periods of time.
The massive new displacement of people has added to what was already one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. Yet the crisis, which has been deteriorating for several months, remains underfunded across eastern Congo. Of the $791m appeal for the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012, only 56 per cent ($442m) has been funded so far, while needs are increasing by the day.
*Names have been changed