DRC: Aid deliveries resuming around Goma after days of disruption

Briefing Notes, 27 November 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 November 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Over the weekend, UNHCR and our partners were able to resume assistance to internally displaced people in 12 sites around Goma, including Mugunga 3 with handouts of WFP food, as well as soap and water containers.

The aid deliveries began on Saturday, and the aim is to reach 110,000 people. This is the first large-scale aid delivery since Goma was captured by the M23 rebel movement on November 20th.

Many of the displaced are telling us they intend returning soon to their home areas, and for this reason the initial aid deliveries are three-day rations only. Further assistance is being planned for areas of return.

North of Goma, in Rutshuru territory, 2,000 people have already spontaneously returned to their homes. In the coming days, exploratory visits to ensure security conditions prevailing in the return areas of Rutshuru will be organized. Assistance with transportation will prioritize people who are in poor health, and pregnant women. Four trucks will be used.

The recent crisis has generated more than 140,000 new IDPs who have settled in the city of Goma, mainly in spontaneous sites and the Mugunga 3 camp. The displacement situation remains fluid with some IDPs moving towards Goma while others are leaving.

Many IDPs need shelter and clean water. Sanitary conditions remain a major challenge due to the lack of toilets and water supply points. Some cases of vomiting, diarrhoea and respiratory infections have already been recorded. These respiratory infections are due to the fact that these people have no shelter and are sleeping in the open under the rains.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Kinshasa: Simplice Kpandji on mobile +243 81 833 1322
  • In Geneva: Leo Dobbs on mobile: +41 79 883 6347
  • Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile: +41 79 249 3483
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Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

Edwige Kpomako is a woman in a hurry; but her energy also helps the refugee from Central African Republic (CAR) to cope with the tragedy that forced her to flee to northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year. Before violence returned to her country in 2012, the 25-year-old was studying for a Masters in American literature in Bangui, and looking forward to the future. "I started my thesis on the works of Arthur Miller, but because of the situation in CAR . . . ," she said, her voice trailing off. Instead, she had to rush to the DRC with a younger brother, but her fiancée and 10-year old son were killed in the inter-communal violence in CAR.

After crossing the Oubangui River to the DRC, Edwige was transferred to Mole, a camp housing more than 13,000 refugees. In a bid to move on with her life and keep busy, she started to help others, assume a leadership role and take part in communal activities, including the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. She heads the women's committee, is engaged in efforts to combat sexual violence, and acts as a liaison officer at the health centre. She also teaches and runs a small business selling face creams. "I discovered that I'm not weak," said Edwige, who remains optimistic. She is sure that her country will come out of its nightmare and rebuild, and that she will one day become a human rights lawyer helping refugees.

American photojournalist Brian Sokol took these photos.

Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

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2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award at a gala ceremony in Geneva on Monday night.

Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

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