Thursday, September 13, 2012

DR Congo. Kanyarucinya. Louisa lives here for now..

This is the conclusion of the article that I based the blog Louisa's Story 
Congolese gather on the roadside at an impromptu site for the displaced in Kanyarucinya on the outskirts of Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"At first glance, Kanyarucinya looks like one of the many 'official' refugee camps in RDC. Hundreds of white UNICEF tents are lined-up on either side of an overcrowded road, which serves as the meeting point for mothers waiting patiently for the next distribution. Hours pass by, during which they cough up the volcanic ash whipped onto their darkened foreheads by military trucks racing towards the Ugandan border.
But appearances can be deceiving, and if new settlers can easily mistake the site for a refugee camp, they quickly discover it isn't managed like one.
According to UNHCR's Public Information Officer, Simplice Kpandji, the lack of organization in Kanyarucinya is the main reason why some settlers receive food while others do not."

Chaos isn't unusual with regard to the DR Congo in a situation like this it is inevitable.
"One of the biggest hurdles to the current distribution systems in IDP camps is the inability of non-governmental organizations to distinguish the settlers from the permanent residents of the village," said Kpandji.
Refugee camps in RDC are currently able to accommodate and feed the majority of unsettled IDPs, says Kpandji, but they are not always the favored sites.
"In contrast to spontaneous settlements sites, 'official' refugee camps are managed to provide for large food demands, and they offer health centers for those who have been caught in between the conflict, but they are also harder to access because they are further away," said Kpandji.

As I said in Louisa's Story she is removed from family and friends but still possibly in proximity to them.
UNHCR currently manages 31 refugee camps in the North-Kivu province of RDC, and provided food, shelter, and other life necessities to more than 100,000 refugees.
"One of our main goals when we talk to people in Kanyarucinya is to sensitize IDPs to come to Mugunga, where they can get greater support," said Kpandji.
At the Mugunga refugee camp, 5 kilometers away from Goma, authorities recently gave UNHCR several pieces of land in order to increase capacity. Since April, the camp has grown from 2,000 to 10,000 refugees.
However, thousands of IDPs have opted against settling near Goma. Instead, they are hoping to unpack at settlement camps, close to the no-man's land zone set up by the FARDC, hoping for a short stay before moving back home.

I suspect it is a false hope but what do you do ? Remove even hope from people from people who lost everything. 
"They know that Mugunga is there, but they prefer to stay closer to their area of origin," said Kpandji. "They want to stay there because they are not far away from their villages, so they hope that when the war will cease they can quickly go back to their home."
Most IDPs expressed that personal security is only marginally more important than the security of their homes or the fields they farm, which explains their stubborn desire to stay as close as possible to the military border.
"If their homes are looted, or their crops die, they have nothing left," said Kpandji."

The sad truth is that it is probable the homes have been looted and their crops stolen.
"Perhaps another reason for the settlers' preference for settlements is the relative normalcy that nearby villages offer, as if enabling them to escape the brutal daily reminders they've lost everything in only a couple of months.
Instead of creating a perimeter around Kanyarucinya, villagers have invited IDPs into their own community. Temporary shelters are being built next to permanent wooden buildings. Some of the bigger structures have even been trusted into the hands of the newcomers."

Never underestimate the basic christianity of the majority of Congolese, they are well aware " that there but for the grace of God go I " 
" Christian Semakin and his brother Lucien were some of the first to settle in Kanyarucinya. As soon as they arrived, they were invited to transform the local school into a shelter for the vulnerable women of their village. They gathered straw from a nearby barn, laid it on the floor and around the edges of the door and windows to keep the women warm at night. One of them in particular, pushed them for survival. She was 8 months pregnant and had been separated from her husband by the conflict. On June 22, she gave birth, over a yellow bed of straw, to a healthy baby boy.
"If we weren't given the school, I'm not sure she would have one right now," said Christian, recognizing their fortune in finding such a hospitable village.
However, his brother says the school quickly became overpopulated. The camp also swelled up, presenting a new but grave threat to the children.
"It became a real threat for small kids, who would get trampled on during distributions, or at night," said Lucien. "

Desperation is never nice.
" Because the humanitarian response is struggling to cope with the needs of IDPs, some of the settlers have taken upon themselves to build temporary housing, cutting down bamboo growing close to the village with their machetes. It is a practice that has been encouraged by local villagers, who see in the demand a business opportunity.
The influx of settlers has also been beneficial to local vendors, who have set up a 'refugee market' aimed for those who were able to flee with money.
The market is rich in food and supplies. One woman chops up several pounds of meat on a makeshift bamboo table, while teenagers grill and sell goat brochettes to passing U.N vehicles, and bored military soldiers guarding the rusty barrier that separates the 'other side.' Away from the smelly fumes, other women are arranging dozens of colorful garments, some of which will undoubtedly finish on one of Goma's sewing tables. "

The problem is that the money invariable runs out. There is also a significant market in Bush Meat and that helps nobody long term.
As the conflict between the FDLR and M23 continues to re-shape the North-Kivu province, it also exposes a number of regional paradoxes defined by a history of fighting: IDPs that prefer to settle near the front line instead of seeking the shelter of UNHCR camps further away; some suffering from famine only a few yards away from herds of goats, and chicken pecking at the floor, while others have enough UNICEF bed sheets to become active players in the local market.
Enough to baffle the few aid workers who brave these perilous roads that lead straight to the M23."

It shouldn't baffle anyone it is a hope that things will return to normal, or a refusal to accept a new normal however temporary that may be.
" In the middle of the camp, a large group their children gather to play football on the village's dirt field. It is sacred ground here, the only space that has remained untouched by the arrivals, reserved for those who need to kick away their worries. For a moment at least, they run together, laugh together, and forget together, about the lives lost and the challenges ahead.
Or maybe they are simply used to the conflicts, and have come to the realization that all they can do, as their parents did before them, is live. Who else makes sure to rescue a torn up rubber ball from impeding danger, but those who know the necessity of the joy it might provide during the next few days ?"

Exactly. Sometime kids just need to be kids.
" Watching them play from the background, behind the goal posts, Mount Nyiragongo's live volcano acts as a symbolic reminder that this picturesque and quiet region of RDC hides old but explosive tribal tensions that can erupt at any given moment. "

Yes they can but there is far more at play in the eastern DR Congo than tribal tensions. 

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