Congo: Violence forces thousands to evacuate
Rebel forces advancing toward the major eastern town of Goma have provoked fresh fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced tens of thousands of people to flee.
Most of the displaced are women and children carrying belongings on their backs and heads.
More than 60,000 people have evacuated Kanyaruchinya displacement camp on the outskirts of Goma, and World Vision has temporarily evacuated staff from the city as the M23 rebel group closes in.
All World Vision program activities in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, have been suspended, adversely affecting almost 800,000 people.
World Vision advocacy manager Dominic Keyzer, speaking from the Rwandan town of Gisenyi — about one mile from the DRC border — says he heard shelling yesterday as government forces retreated from North Kivu.
“It’s so heartbreaking to see innocent women and children face the worst violence of their lives over a conflict that they little understand and cannot control,” he says.
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 for families who have evacuated because of the violence.
There are now about 2.4 million internally displaced people in the DRC.
Laura Blank is a World Vision emergency communications officer based in the U.S.