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Hundreds of thousands at risk without food, shelter or medical care in North Kivu

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  The whole family was in the field working when the shooting started We fled and walked for three hours to Rumangabo in the rain says Ponsie Benda 54 We couldn t go back to the house We left with what we had on us As clashes between the armed group M23 and the Congolese army closed in on his village the father of 13 children found refuge in the Virunga National Park primary school in Rumangabo in June 190 000 people in need Like Ponsie more than 190 000 people have had to flee their homes since the end of March 2022 in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories of North Kivu province following the resurgence of the armed group M23 and intermittent clashes with the Congolese Army PONSIE BENDA RIGHT 54 HIS WIFE of hers AND 13 CHILDREN WERE DISPLACED AFTER THE FIGHT CLOSER TO THEIR HOMETOWN We slept outside I built this shelter with wooden sticks We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday My wife takes them from people s fields asking the owners first There is mutual help because the community knows how much we are suffering Most people have gathered along the national highway linking Rutshuru to Goma the capital of North Kivu often in overcrowded places We slept outside I built this shelter with wooden sticks I m going to get banana and eucalyptus leaves to cover it That way at least the kids will be a little bit protected says Ponsie When he and his family arrived in Rumangabo the school classrooms were already full and they had no choice but to settle in the courtyard At the Rugabo stadium in the center of Rutshuru more than 1 400 families have gathered UNHCR has built community shelters but even so conditions remain extremely precarious some 35 families share an 18 by 5 meter tent When it rains the water floods the ground in the shelters and we spend the night in the water says Agrippine N Maganya 53 who arrived in Rutshuru with six of her 10 children more than four months ago The others must be in Uganda by now I haven t heard from them since the flight she says The proximity in internally displaced persons IDP sites combined with the lack of showers and latrines is a major risk factor for the spread of infectious diseases such as measles or cholera says B n dicte Lecoq M decins Sans Fronti res MSF emergency coordinator Stomachs are empty Adding to the lack of shelter is the lack of food We have nothing to eat Sometimes people I know from my village give me some food that they collected in the neighbourhoods says Obed Mashabi 20 who found refuge in the Rugabo stadium at the end of March We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday adds Ponsie My wife takes them from other people s fields asking the owners first There is mutual help because the community knows how much we are suffering They share what little they have The people we treat have empty stomachs says Lecoq It is essential to increase food distributions or the situation could get even worse At the Rutshuru general referral hospital the MSF supported unit for severely malnourished children has been full for several weeks with a bed occupancy rate of 140 In the health structures that our teams are supporting in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories the average number of consultations often exceeds 100 per day The three main diseases observed are malaria respiratory infections and diarrhoea Given the magnitude of the needs our teams cannot be everywhere Health structures are overwhelmed and face a serious lack of medicines In the face of this emergency more actors must be mobilized to ensure that all people can access care says Lecoq OBED MASHABI 20 FOUND SHELTER IN RUGABO STADIUM AT THE END OF MARCH We don t have anything to eat Sometimes people I know from my town give me some food that they collected in the neighborhoods We have food in the village in the fields but we can t go back The war continues there Everything must be rotting Beyond the immediate needs the long term consequences for affected communities are also a cause for concern Most depend on agriculture so lack of access to their fields for weeks or even months could exacerbate food insecurity for thousands of people in the region We have food in the town in the fields but we can t go back The war continues there Everything must be rotting says Obed Limited humanitarian assistance Although the crisis has lasted for several months Agrippine Ponsie and Obed lament the lack of humanitarian assistance received so far I have never received any distribution of food no bowls no pots nothing says Agrippina No one has come here If we had gotten help we wouldn t be out like this adds Ponsie The recent outbreak of violence in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation with an estimated total of 1 6 million people displaced and more than 2 5 million people in need in North Kivu province in June of 2022 For Agrippine the more the weeks go by the more the hope of returning home diminishes I have no hope of going home any time soon There is no improvement she says Ponsie shares her discouragement Why is there still war in North Kivu This is not the first time we have had to flee I don t know how my children can grow up in war
Hundreds of thousands at risk without food, shelter or medical care in North Kivu

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Ponsie Benda

“The whole family was in the field working when the shooting started.

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We fled and walked for three hours to Rumangabo in the rain,” says Ponsie Benda, 54.

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“We couldn’t go back to the house.

We left with what we had on us”.

As clashes between the armed group M23 and the Congolese army closed in on his village, the father of 13 children found refuge in the Virunga National Park primary school in Rumangabo in June. 190,000 people in need Like Ponsie, more than 190,000 people have had to flee their homes since the end of March 2022 in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories of North Kivu province, following the resurgence of the armed group M23 and intermittent clashes with the Congolese Army. PONSIE BENDA (RIGHT), 54, HIS WIFE of hers AND 13 CHILDREN WERE DISPLACED AFTER THE FIGHT CLOSER TO THEIR HOMETOWN “We slept outside.

I built this shelter with wooden sticks.

We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday.

My wife takes them from people’s fields, asking the owners first.

There is mutual help because the community knows how much we are suffering”.

Most people have gathered along the national highway linking Rutshuru to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, often in overcrowded places.

“We slept outside.

I built this shelter with wooden sticks.

I’m going to get banana and eucalyptus leaves to cover it.

That way at least the kids will be a little bit protected,” says Ponsie.

When he and his family arrived in Rumangabo, the school classrooms were already full and they had no choice but to settle in the courtyard.

At the Rugabo stadium in the center of Rutshuru, more than 1,400 families have gathered.

UNHCR has built community shelters, but even so, conditions remain extremely precarious: some 35 families share an 18-by-5-meter tent.

“When it rains, the water floods the ground in the shelters and we spend the night in the water,” says Agrippine N’Maganya, 53, who arrived in Rutshuru with six of her 10 children more than four months ago.

“The others must be in Uganda by now…

I haven’t heard from them since the flight,” she says.

“The proximity in internally displaced persons (IDP) sites, combined with the lack of showers and latrines, is a major risk factor for the spread of infectious diseases such as measles or cholera,” says Bénédicte Lecoq, Médecins Sans Frontières ( MSF) emergency coordinator.

Stomachs are empty Adding to the lack of shelter is the lack of food.

“We have nothing to eat.

Sometimes people I know from my village give me some food that they collected in the neighbourhoods,” says Obed Mashabi, 20, who found refuge in the Rugabo stadium at the end of March.

“We eat boiled leaves from Monday to Sunday,” adds Ponsie.

“My wife takes them from other people’s fields, asking the owners first.

There is mutual help because the community knows how much we are suffering.

They share what little they have.” “The people we treat have empty stomachs,” says Lecoq.

“It is essential to increase food distributions or the situation could get even worse.” At the Rutshuru general referral hospital, the MSF-supported unit for severely malnourished children has been full for several weeks, with a bed occupancy rate of 140%.

In the health structures that our teams are supporting in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories, the average number of consultations often exceeds 100 per day.

The three main diseases observed are malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoea.

“Given the magnitude of the needs, our teams cannot be everywhere.

Health structures are overwhelmed and face a serious lack of medicines.

In the face of this emergency, more actors must be mobilized to ensure that all people can access care,” says Lecoq.

OBED MASHABI, 20, FOUND SHELTER IN RUGABO STADIUM AT THE END OF MARCH “We don’t have anything to eat.

Sometimes people I know from my town give me some food that they collected in the neighborhoods.

We have food in the village, in the fields, but we can’t go back.

The war continues there.

Everything must be rotting.

Beyond the immediate needs, the long-term consequences for affected communities are also a cause for concern.

Most depend on agriculture, so lack of access to their fields for weeks or even months could exacerbate food insecurity for thousands of people in the region.

“We have food in the town, in the fields, but we can’t go back.

The war continues there.

Everything must be rotting,” says Obed. Limited humanitarian assistance Although the crisis has lasted for several months, Agrippine, Ponsie and Obed lament the lack of humanitarian assistance received so far.

“I have never received any distribution of food, no bowls, no pots; nothing,” says Agrippina.

“No one has come here.

If we had gotten help, we wouldn’t be out like this,” adds Ponsie.

The recent outbreak of violence in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation with an estimated total of 1.6 million people displaced and more than 2.5 million people in need in North Kivu province in June of 2022.

For Agrippine, the more the weeks go by, the more the hope of returning home diminishes.

“I have no hope of going home any time soon.

There is no improvement,” she says.

Ponsie shares her discouragement.

“Why is there still war in North Kivu?

This is not the first time we have had to flee.

I don’t know how my children can grow up in war.”

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