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Democratic Republic of the Congo: New influx of displaced people near Goma

20-04-2000 News Release 00/14

About 150 people – men, old people, women nursing babies – were huddled together on a stretch of road near Lake Kivu, on the outskirts of Goma. They had all walked for three or four days from Masisi or the Walikale area, west of Goma.

" They are arriving at a rate of about 50 a day " , said a local official. All of them had been driven from their homes by terror: villages attacked by night, looting, houses set on fire. One man had only four of his eight children with him. He did not know whether the others were dead or had become lost in the rush to escape. Some of these IDPs had wanted to stop at Saké, 25 km to the east, " but there were already too many displaced there so we pushed on until we got here " .

On 14 April the ICRC managed to carry out a survey in Saké, where 12,000 newly displaced people have arrived since the beginning of April. Kivu is no stranger to such events: in recent years this eastern region of the Congo has seen successive waves of civilians fleeing armed men. There are an estimated 200,000 IDPs in Kivu alone, and their numbers are growing every day.

In general the ICRC, which is the main humanitarian organization operating in eastern Congo, can only reach people who have sought refuge in towns, because of the poor security situation. Between 10 and 15 April the ICRC, working in cooperation with the National Red Cross Society, distributed cooking oil, maize flour, beans and salt to 43,355 especially vulnerable displaced people in Goma town.

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