“I am old, I can’t flee quickly” – how conflict affects the most vulnerable

As rebel soldiers from the “M23” group take control of Goma and threaten to continue their fight to capture other key cities in DRC, including the capital Kinshasa.  

ActionAid has been working in the DRC for 10 years, supporting people affected by the ongoing conflict. 

Our experience shows that it is always the most vulnerable people – women, pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, for example  - who are hit hardest in crises like the current one affecting eastern DRC. 

In October, ActionAid spoke to people affected by the fighting.  Mother of seven, Marie Jose, originally from Rugari, was forced to flee to the Kanyaruchinya camp, in the process becoming one of an estimated 760,000 people displaced from their homes in North and South Kivu since the start of 2012.

“I fled the war between the soldiers of the M23 and the soldiers of the Congolese government. I walked with my whole family."

I was seven months pregnant. It took us 12 hours. I had my baby at the health centre in Kanyaruchiniya one month ago, and we arrived here on the 30th of July.

In her home village, Marie Jose had a house, a farm and a small business, but fear of violence – partiuclarly  sexual violence against women – made it impossible for her and her family to stay. 

File 14000Samuel Kinyere
75 year old Samuel Kinyere has lived through decades of war. 

“Before, I used to farm, I was growing tobacco, leeks, cabbages,” he told us. “When I moved from Kibumba I came here with 8 goats but today I have only 4. I had to sell the other 4 for the survival of my family and for the school fees of my children and grandchildren.”

I left Kibumba because of the insecurity. I thought it better to come to the [Kanyaruchinya] camp because I am too old and I can’t flee quickly in case the fighting starts between M23 and FARDC [government forces]

ActionAid works in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo terrotiores of North Kivu.  The current insecurity has forced us to temporarily suspend our operations, but we are planning to support those affected by this latest round of conflict as soon as possible. 

Our response will target the most vulnerable groups  - people just like Marie Jose and Samuel, helping them to recover from this latest round of violence and return to their homes.  ActionAid is also lobbying for the parties to the conflict to cease fighting and protect the rights of civilians.