Furaha Nyimutozo escaped for her life when conflict broke out close to her house in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Weeks later, she claims she is faced with a terrible decision: “between starving to death or returning to our farms to pick the food and risking being fired at by the rebels.”
Since a long-dormant armed group known as the M23 resumed fighting last year, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives have been completely upended, including Nyimutozo.
Both a humanitarian crisis and a contentious political standoff have been brought on by its campaign. The Democratic Republic of the Congo accuses Rwanda of aiding the militia, a charge that Kigali refutes.
In accordance with the UNHCR, 200,000 people have left their homes.
According to Blaise Ngoy, spokeswoman for the UNHCR in the province of North Kivu, which borders Rwanda and Uganda, the majority of the displaced people reside with families who have taken them in. He noted that the organization itself was caring for another 4,000 families.
Up until the end of June, the DRC had 900,000 internally displaced persons, according to OCHA, the UN organization in charge of organizing humanitarian relief.
– Financial crisis
The Rugabo sports complex in Rutshuru has served as a refuge for countless people.
Inside the location, which once hosted football games, are enormous white tents with blue signs reading UNCHR.
There are already 1,500 families living there in tents that can accommodate more than 40 families, or two parents and four children on average.
Cooking smoke’s pungent odor permeates the entire room. According to Pierre Atchom, director of the organization in Goma, feeding the populace is not a simple undertaking.
He told AFP that the organization required $225 million in order to address the severe and all-encompassing catastrophe in the eastern DRC.
“We have 43 million as of right now. The needs are great,” he remarked, regretting that the crisis didn’t garner the same global attention as the war in Ukraine.
According to Atchom, the repercussions would be catastrophic if the organization was forced to leave the area.
According to the families who were there, they were having difficulty getting by on the assistance the UNHCR could offer.
They trembled, however, at the thought of what would occur if the agency were to leave.
But they trembled at the thought of what would occur if the agency had to go.
Having a family is a genuine struggle, according to mother of four Julienne Nyiramana. We are requesting assistance so that we can go back to our villages.
We will starve to death, warned 35-year-old father of four Emmanuel Hakizimwami, if the UNHCR is unable to continue providing assistance.
A 25-year-old mother of two who was in tears stated, “In our village, my children ate three times a day at least; here, it’s hard to get just one meal a day.”
However, her hamlet is under M23 insurgent control. There is no turning back at this time.
She questioned, “What is going to happen to us if there is no longer anything” from the UNHCR.
Innes, 10, and her brother play outside in the oppressive heat. The child is so frail that her bones can be seen through her skin beneath her worn-out black blouse. Similar indications of malnutrition are present in other kids as well.
The village of Ntamugenga, which is in a valley and is overshadowed by a hill held by the M23, has a similar tale to tell.
7,200 families are dispersed over four locations in this area.
Banana fields are all that stand between the Congolese army and the rebels at the front line, which is only 500 yards from the village.
However, anyone who ventures out into the fields to forage for food does so at great risk.
Celestin Nyamugira, the local leader, stated that “for the rebels, anyone who visits the fields is deemed a soldier or informant and hence is a spy.” “They frequently fire without provocation.”
Esperance, a 32-year-old mother of three, described their attempts to obtain food there with three other women.
She claimed, “The rebels grabbed what we had accumulated and beat our breasts.”