Thousands of people have been forced to take refuge in church buildings because of the occupation of Goma by a rebel group known as M23. We are working with our local partner Caritas Goma to ensure that they have food, shelter, clothes, blankets and cooking equipment.
Father Piero Gavioli is Director of the Don Bosco Ngangi Centre in Goma. He told us:
People started arriving here on Friday 16th November, but the numbers increased on Monday 19th November. They came from Kanyaruchinya camp, which is three kilometres away.
Some of them were hungry and very poor, with few clothes or possessions. I saw a woman whose leg was broken during her journey, and many others were also injured. I’ve also heard that eight pregnant women gave birth during their escape. The people I met said that they were disappointed, that they were losing hope for peace, that they were losing hope that they would be able to go home.
We welcomed people to stay in our classrooms. We were obliged to stop lessons at school because of the situation. But the classrooms are very crowded, so some people are living outside without any shelter. Others are living in the large games room here, and even in the great hall of the church. In total, there are 2056 households living in our compound, including 6821 children.
Our mission is to welcome people. There is a trust between us and the people. As they need our help, they respect what we say to them. We are not afraid of their presence with us.
We have received support from Caritas Goma, especially help for malnourished children in urgent need of food. Today, we still receive their support.
My messages to the rest of the world are: 1) The whole world should know what’s happening here. 2) The world should be aware of the seriousness of the situation. Because the conflict here is not ethnic or tribal conflict but it’s an economic conflict based on natural resources in the DRC. 3) The international community should maintain pressure on the leaders in the region to preserve peace and to allow the region to develop without war.