“My three children fled in different directions"
Clothilde Kikoti, 78, fled her home in Katibili village because of armed conflict in the area in May 2017. Her husband got caught up in the violence in the area and was killed a month before she fled, she told. “My three adult children fled in different directions when our village was attacked. I don’t know where they are or if they are dead or alive.” Mwenya gathers firewood and vegetables in the forest, earning a meagre 2,500 Congolese Francs (less than two dollars) per day to be able to buy food. Mwenya’s house in her home village has been destroyed, but she still wants to go home when the authorities guarantee that the area is safe and will be able to provide assistance.
The Katanika Displacement Settlement is located just outside the centre of Kalemie town. The settlement houses nearly 9,500 families (just under 70,000 individuals) most of whom fled violent interethnic clashes in Kalemie Territory. The majority of people living in Katanika arrived in two waves—the first wave in January 2017 and the second in May. Very little assistance has been given to people living in Katanika due to administrative blockades and lack of funding for local and international NGOs to adequately address needs.
Food is scarce in the settlement and the only means to earn money is through menial jobs like chopping wood, transporting bags of sand and working in the fields. The average amount a displaced person earns for this kind of work is 625 Congolese francs or less than US 0.40 cents a day.
Health needs are rife in the settlement. Many are suffering from malaria, malnutrition, severe diarrhea, dysentery and cholera. There have also been reports of hypertension and strokes. There is no aid for pregnant women or women who give birth. People who get severely ill and need professional medical attention rarely have the means to go to hospitals outside of the settlement
Children in the settlement are not able to access quality education. In certain parts of the camp, locals have set up makeshift schools (under trees) and one or two NGOs have set up an emergency education programs for about 400 students.
Almost all people in Katanika have listed, cash, food, clean water, clothes, healthcare and education as their most crucial needs.
Most people in the camp have said they would like to return to their home villages, but not until they are certain there is peace and only if they can receive assistance to start their lives again.
An upsurge in violence in several parts of DR Congo in 2015, has left over 1.7 million people to flee their homes this year alone; that’s over 5,500 people per day. This week the DR Congo was declared the worst affected by displacement in the world by the global analysts, IDMC. Tanganyika province, is one of the hotspots of the current crisis.
Despite the UN putting the world on notice about Congo’s crisis, little has changed since October. Money has only trickled in to help the 13 million people in need. Today the country is the second lowest funded of the world’s largest crises - less than half of the US$812 million aid appeal is funded.
The violence has prevented many families from accessing land and maintaining their livelihoods. 7.7 million people are severely food insecure, up 30 per cent in a year. Lack of access to clean water has led to a cholera outbreak that has killed some 600 people.
Photos: NRC/Christian Jepsen