DR of Congo: Over a quarter of a million people on the run

Escalating violence in the east of the country is forcing 370,000 people to flee. They are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Johanniter provides medical assistance.

Berlin / Goma - Since October, the violence between the government army and the rebel group M23 in the east of the country has escalated. Large areas outside the gates of the provincial capital Goma have already been captured by the M23. Hundreds have already been killed in the contested areas, 370,000 people are on the run. More than half of them children.

"Most of the people have been accommodated in overcrowded IDP camps and collective shelters in the Nyiragongo area outside Goma," says Florian Meyer, Johanniter Programme Officer for Congo. "The people here are in urgent need of humanitarian aid." The WHO has already reported a massive increase in cholera cases in the IDP camps.

Mobile clinic to care for displaced people

Johanniter has been working in eastern DR Congo for more than 20 years, carrying out medical projects in the different regions of North Kivu province. Due to the current displacements, a mobile clinic has now been set up in the Mujoga IDP camp, in the Nyirangongo region.

And the need is enormous. The more than 500 families in Mujoga IDP camp only have with them what they could carry in a hurry. "There is a lack of everything: Water, food, medical care," Meyer reports.

Since the end of November, a Johanniter team of eight has been treating up to 50 patients a day, mainly with respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases. More severe cases are referred to the health centre in Kibati, three kilometres away.

Appeal to the international community

The crisis in Congo is receiving little international attention, which is why Johanniter is calling for not forgetting the displaced people and urgently releasing funds to support them.

Johanniter currently pays for staff, medicines and other materials from its own funds as well as donations to Aktion Deutschland Hilft. "What is urgently needed is at least one more mobile clinic for the other IDP camps," he said.