A secure roof for Elodie and her children

Rwo Congolese children sitting on an improvised bench Rwo Congolese children sitting on an improvised bench © Photo by Unsplash

Elodie Kavugho, 41, is a single mother of eight who has fled with her children after her village in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo  was attacked by one of the most dangerous armed groups in Beni Territory. She recalls a two days long walk to reach safer spots, Mangina Town in her and her family’s case although having nowhere to stay upon the arrival: “We walked for two days [...] Our feet were sore for a week; we were massaging them every day.” Further, she’s awaited nine months to access a safe accomodation provided by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. 

Nearly two million people have been uprooted by insecurity and violence in North Kivu province alone over the past two years. Despite DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi launching a state of emergency on 6 May in North Kivu and its neighbouring Ituri province, armed groups continue to devastate civilian lives. 

UNHCR reports that since 22 June, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are alleged to have brutally killed at least 14 people and injured many others in and around the city of Beni. Several properties were looted, and others burned to the ground.  This was the first attack in two years by the ADF on the city, and the group’s resurgence is terrorizing the lives of inhabitants, as well as Elodie’s too. 

As brutally unfair as it is, Elodie’s case is not an exception. In fact, the number of families fled from Congo keeps arising. Those who manage to have a secure roof over their heads often happen to host a large number of displaced people in their houses. It is the case of Kahambu Mwavuli, 57, who barely has any space left in her house in Oicha in Beni Territory, with more than 25 people, including her own family of seven and the displaced people she has taken in, currently crammed into her small home.

 

Sources:

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2021/7/60f1311f4/forced-homes-displaced-congolese-dire-need-shelter.html 

UNHCR - Attacks by armed group displace 20,000 civilians in eastern DRC

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Author: Benedetta Spizzichino

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