Concern is growing for the tens of thousands of people trying to flee the violence in Congo, who not only face hunger but also disease. In what the Red Cross has called a “human catastrophy”, people are now leaving Goma after retreating government troops reportedly went crazy overnight, killing and looting.
Thousands had earlier sought refuge there from the fighting. “Living conditions in Goma became very bad,” said one man. “We couldn’t live there, that’s why we are going back.” “We have left the place we fled to because there isn’t enough food or water,” said another refugee. “We’ve been sleeping under the stars. The women are giving birth without medical care. That is why we are going back to our places.”
The precarious security situation is making it nearly impossible for agencies to deliver aid. A so-called humanitarian corridor ordered by the rebel leader to allow through basic aid is virtually non-existent according to reports on the ground.
A total of 250,000 people are thought to have been displaced by the conflict. Thousands more have taken refuge in neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.