North Kivu hosts one of the largest internally displaced persons (IDPs) of any province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Almost a million people abandoned their homes in 2010 due to insecurity caused by armed groups; some 70 percent have been taken in by relatives, but the remainder lives in official and unofficial camps.
Atrocities committed by armed groups in north and west central Masisi, as well as official military operations against the rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), in the border territory, Walikale, were the main causes of displacement in the area during 2010. Ongoing violent attacks – including theft, extortion and rape – mean the security situation today is still highly unstable, causing regular waves of forced displacement.
Persons in vulnerable circumstances
Even though the experience of forced displacement is extremely traumatic and wrought with difficulties, there are individuals whose lives in the camps are even more precarious. These vulnerable persons frequently include older persons, single parents with children under 12, women living alone, those with chronic illnesses, persons with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, and victims of sexual- and gender-based violence.
JRS field staff devotes special attention to more than 400 extremely vulnerable displaced persons by paying frequent visits to the official and unofficial camps, offering them practical assistance, friendship and hope.
Funded by the Spanish NGOs, Alboan, Caritas Espagne, Entreculturas, and the Dutch organisation, Stichting Porticus, this JRS intervention seeks to support vulnerable displaced persons living in Mweso, Kashuga I, Kashuga II, Ibuga, Kalembe Kalonge and Kalembe Remblais camps. Activities include the distribution of food, clothing and other essential items, such as tarpaulins, mattresses, soap and building materials. JRS also provides transportation to hospital for women in labour and for others who need emergency medical assistance.
Central to the field work of JRS is to identify of human rights abuses in Mweso and raise these issues at regular meetings and other fora with NGOs and other humanitarian agencies participating in the UN Protection and Camp Coordination and Management clusters based in Kitchanga and Goma.
The chaos and aftermath of war has had serious consequences for the education system in Masisi district. The destruction and looting of school infrastructure along with the frequent interruptions to the school year have prevented regular progress for many students.
Conflict has left both displaced and local families impoverished, and parents are often unable to pay school fees for their children. A lack of toilet facilities and running water and poor sanitation make it difficult for children, particularly girls, to attend school regularly.
In addition, the irregularity and inadequacy of teachers' salaries, the decrease in education budgets and the lack of teacher training and appropriate school supplies also contribute to the drop in education standards in areas of displacement.
Funded by the Spanish NGOs, Alboan, Caritas Espagne, Entreculturas, and the Dutch organisation, Stichting Porticus – JRS responds to this situation by seeking to guarantee access to education for children suffering the consequences of war and displacement. Activities of the formal education project in 2011 included the refurbishment and building of secondary schools, with the obligatory contribution of building materials from parents, teacher training and distribution of school supplies.
JRS serves children aged 12-17 and teachers between the ages of 25 and 50 living in eight camps for internal displaced persons – Mweso, Kashuga I, Kashuga II, Ibuga, Kalembe, Kalonge and Kalembe Remblais, as well as those living in local host communities, who although not displaced during the war, nevertheless experienced its the effects first hand.
IDP women are rarely granted the same rights as men, and, as such, find themselves in particularly difficult circumstances in a male-dominated culture. In fact, North Kivu is known as the global capital of sexual violence against women and girls; being displaced in Masisi district merely heightens the possibility of being subject to sexual violence.
Most reported incidences of sexual violence –which tend to exclude the high levels of domestic violence – occur when women and children leave the camps in search of firewood; a crime for which the perpetrators– frequently rebels and military personnel – are rarely punished. Consequently, this drastically increases the likelihood of contracting HIV, leading to their ostracisation from society, particularly from their families.
Funded by the Spanish NGOs, Alboan, Caritas Espagne, Entreculturas, and the Dutch organisation, Stichting Porticus, this JRS intervention seeks to reduce the vulnerability of displaced women living in Mweso, Kashuga I, Kashuga II, Ibuga, Kalembe Kalonge and Kalembe Remblais camps and local communities in the surrounding area.
JRS provides 80 IDP and local women between the ages of 25 and 50 years of age with literacy and tailoring courses. The bags produced by the women are subsequently purchased by JRS for the school students. Central to the work of JRS in Mweso is the promotion of women's rights, particularly to bring an end to sex and gender based violence.
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: project expands to meet the needs of the most inaccessible displaced populations
Mweso, 16 October 2012 – With the recent expansion of activities to the Muhunga and Mokoto camps, the Jesuit Refugee Service is fulfilling its target of reaching out to internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the most remote and inaccessible areas of war-torn eastern Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo: helping neighbours is just a question of love
Mweso, 12 March 2012 – Working for your community should be more about solidarity than earning a living. This is the focus of the latest JRS awareness raising initiative in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): new projects get under way in North Kivu
Bujumbura, 31 August 2011 – Despite the substantial obstacles of working in a worn torn region – poor infrastructure, lack of human resources and insecurity – after six months of preparation work with local communities, the latest JRS projects in eastern DRC are beginning to show fruit.
Papua New Guinea
Democratic Republic of Congo
Katanga Province, DRC
United States of America
Central African Republic