Established in the mid-1990s, JRS teams responded to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Rwanda. Towards the end of the decade, teams shifted focus to meeting the needs of internally displaced Congolese following the outbreak of civil war. Since the 2003 peace agreement, based in Goma in North Kivu, JRS teams have opened and closed a number of projects for displaced persons and returnees.
Following the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), education and emergency assistance projects in Goma were phased down in 2009 and in nearby Rutshuru in September 2011 after four years. Since then JRS has shifted its focus to IDPs in official and makeshift camps in insecure areas in Masisi district. According to a 2011 estimate, there are more than half a million IDPs living in North Kivu.
The provision of formal education to children and adolescents, and informal training – such as literacy, tailoring and bag production courses – to adults, especially women, continue to be the core of JRS field support. Particular attention is given to groups in the most vulnerable circumstances, particularly girls and women victims of sexual- and gender-based violence. Crucial to the way JRS teams work is the principle of inclusion, which helps to avoid tension and foster good relationships between IDPs and the local communities.
The security situation remains highly precarious in eastern Congo, particularly Ituri and the North and South Kivu provinces, due to on-going conflict between the national army and armed groups. Consequently, thousands of women, children and men are forced to flee their villages in a massive movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region.
Although progress has been made in stability in this large and complex African nation, much will depend on the outcome of two years of presidential, provincial, and local elections which began in November 2011. The process of integrating former combatants into the regular army has been hindered by many ex-rebels who have resisted losing their former, higher, rank in the transition. Meanwhile, inadequate service provision, corruption and judicial impunity continue to scar this resource rich nation, particularly in the east.
Great Lakes Africa
+257 78991302; +243 (0)821778696; +250 782000940
JRS Great Lakes Africa is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office coordinates the delivery of education, housing, psychosocial and recreational services, as well emergency assistance and support to become self-sufficient, to vulnerable refugee and other displaced populations in Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2009, nearly 60,000 forcibly displaced persons were assisted by JRS in the region.
Democratic Republic of Congo: unexploded ordnances in schools, students at risks
Goma, 27 March 2013 – Unexploded grenades, bullets and other unused munitions were found last month in sewage drains used by some schools in the North Kivu capital. For students in the area, school is not a place of protection, but a threat to their lives.
Forty-six leading Congolese and international NGOs welcome Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, but call for further action to make peace a reality
Goma/Kinshasa/ Rome/ Washington DC, 24 February 2013 – A group of prominent Congolese and international NGOs today called on countries in the Great Lakes region, along with their international partners, to ensure that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in Addis Ababa is given the political backing necessary to bring an end to war in the eastern Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo: call for a genuine peace process
Goma, 14 February 2013 – For years the international community has attempted to help stabilise eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the expense of billions of US dollars, yet sustainable peace remains elusive. Elections in November 2011 were widely seen as lacking credibility and provincial and local elections have been delayed indefinitely.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: call for a genuine peace process
(Goma) February 14, 2012 – For years the international community has attempted to help stabilize eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at the expense of billions of dollars, yet sustainable peace remains elusive. At the end of 2012 more than 2.7 million people were estimated displaced in DRC, up from 1.7 million in 2011.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: school, the best deterrent against the recruitment of minors
(Goma) February 11, 2013 – For anyone who travels along the muddy and rugged roads of the eastern province of North Kivu, teenage boys clasping firearms is commonplace. Children are frequently the victims of forced recruitment in the ranks of one of the many armed groups in Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo: local rebels sign historic peace agreement in Masisi
Masisi, 7 February 2013 – The Jesuit Refugee Service welcomes the peace agreement signed on 5 February 2013 by different armed groups to stop interethnic violence and bring peace in Masisi, in the mineral-rich North Kivu province. The agreement seeks to bring an end to inter-ethnic violence which has led to the death of 310 people since April 2012, the displacement of tens of thousands of others, and the destruction of villages and camps for displaced persons.
Democratic Republic of Congo: further bloodshed and exhaustion facing internally displaced persons in Masisi
Bujumbura, 5 December 2012 – Bloodshed, destruction and massive population displacement continues to terrorise the population of Masisi, a mineral rich area in North Kivu, eastern Congo. At least 28 people were killed in Masisi since 29 November, as a consequence of on-going fighting between rival armed groups.
Democratic Republic of Congo: precarious lives of displaced persons in Masisi
Goma, 27 November 2012 – On the one hand displaced Congolese are living in constant fear of the imminent arrival of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, which have already taken control of Goma, the North Kivu capital in eastern Congo. On the other hand, day in, day out they are suffering the effects of the violent attacks of numerous rebel groups in the area.
Democratic Republic of Congo: despite ongoing insecurity, JRS teams return to Goma and re-establish activities in Masisi
Goma, 23 November 2012 – Only three days after the fall of Goma, the North Kivu capital, and the armed advance of the rebel group March 23 Movement (M23), the Jesuit Refugee Service resumed activities for internally displaced persons (IDP) and local communities in Masisi, about 100 kilometres from the eastern Congo provincial city.
Democratic Republic of Congo: clashes in Goma leave thousands in urgent need of assistance
Bujumbura, 21 November 2012 – Tens of thousands of women, children and men are currently fleeing areas around the North Kivu capital Goma, in eastern Congo, as a consequence of a violent armed advance conducted by the rebel group, March 23 Movement (M23) which took control of the city yesterday.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: tragedy unfolding in Goma
(Bujumbura, Burundi) November 21, 2012 – Tens of thousands of women, children and men are currently fleeing areas around the North Kivu capital Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, ahead of a violent armed advance conducted by the M23 rebel group, which took control of the city yesterday.
Democratic Republic of Congo: in its management of the security crisis, the government must not lose sight of the rights of children
Kinshasa, London, 19 September 2012 – While the security, political and diplomatic crisis in the east of the country is deepening, the undersigned organisations remind the Congolese government of its duty to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict. Under international law, the recruitment or use of children by armed forces or armed groups is unlawful and may constitute a war crime; and it is the primary responsibility of governments to safeguard the rights of children in their territory and to ensure their protection against military exploitation.
Democratic Republic of Congo: when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled
Goma, 20 July 2012 – In an interview with the JRS Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Romeo Cagatin SVD, offers an insight into the effects on the civilian population caught in the middle of yet another humanitarian crisis in North Kivu.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: food aid urgently needed
(Goma) May 25, 2012 — When we met 38-year-old Faida Zahir, she was breastfeeding one-month-old Dorica. She was seated on a bench in a small Protestant church in Mugunga, a few kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Dorica and her mother were one of the 500 families who have found refuge in the church and the primary school next door.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): more food aid urgently needed
Goma, 15 May 2012 – When we met 38-year-old Faida Zahir, she was breastfeeding one-month-old Dorica. She was seated on a bench in a small Protestant church in Mugunga, a few kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Dorica and her mother were one of the 500 families who have found refuge in the church and the primary school next door.
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