World Vision evacuates staff, warns of mounting humanitarian crisis as violence escalates in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Goma, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (November 19, 2012) — Fresh fighting as rebel forces advance from the north towards Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, has prompted the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to move 70,000 civilians from one camp to another camp located south of the airport. There are now roughly 2.2 million internally displaced people in DRC. World Vision has temporarily evacuated staff from the eastern city of Goma, as M23 rebels threaten the safety of the city. All program activities in Goma have also been suspended.
“It’s so heart breaking to see innocent women and children face the worst violence of their lives over a conflict that they little understand and cannot control,” said Dominic Keyzer, the Advocacy Manager for World Vision in DRC, who is currently in Giseyni, about 1.5 kilometers (approximately 1 mile) from the border on the Rwanda side.
“We heard a lot of shelling yesterday as government forces retreated from North Kivu near the airport,” added Keyzer.
There have been local radio reports of children finding themselves alone in Goma after becoming separated from their parents as they flee from one camp to another to escape the fighting.
World Vision is preparing to respond in Goma and nearby areas with food, medicine and hygiene kits to families who have fled the violence. The aid agency is also considering using the nearby Rwandan town of Gisenye to organize assistance to refugees there.