Democratic Republic of Congo: project expands to meet the needs of the most inaccessible displaced populations
16 October 2012

A look into the IDP camp of Muhanga, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (Danilo Giannese/JRS)
Mokoto and Muhanga camps are particularly difficult to reach and IDPs living there have more need than ever for protection; this is why we have decided to establish activities in places like this.
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.

The two camps host more than 7,000 IDPs, most of whom fled the pervasive climate of violence surrounding their home villages. Situated on the hills surrounding Kitchanga, the camps are extremely inaccessible due to the precarious state of the roads, particularly in the rainy season.

This constant insecurity has not only constrained JRS teams from establishing new projects in this area, it has frequently forced them to suspend or limit field activities in the past. But unless humanitarian organisations establish projects here, these IDPs will not receive any other support from outside.

"We work in areas where people are forced to flee their homes every day because of war. The needs of displaced communities are great and as JRS we seek to expand our range of activities and reach as many people and areas as possible. Mokoto and Muhanga camps are particularly difficult to reach and IDPs living there have more need than ever for protection; this is why we have decided to establish activities in places like this", said JRS Programme Director in nearby Mweso, Sr Paola Paoli.

Project activities. In an effort to integrate displaced populations into the surrounding community and foster peaceful coexistence, JRS staff works alongside those living in host and neighbouring villages.

As part of the JRS informal educational support, teams have built a training centre in Muhanga and renovated an old convent, donated by Cistercian monks, in Mokototo, where courses in literacy and handcrafts offer men and women the skills to making a living.

In conversations with local and displaced communities in Muhanga, JRS learned there is only one secondary school in the area, forcing students, half of whom are from displaced communities, to attend classes in a local chapel due to the lack of alternatives. Concerns were also expressed about the quality of teacher training and the availability of educational materials. JRS teams have already begun distributing school materials and organising teacher training workshops, as well as making a commitment to building a new secondary school.

In addition, food and other individualised assistance has been made available to IDPs and local community members living in extremely vulnerable circumstances in both Mokoto and Muhanga – including older people, people with disabilities or illnesses, orphans and widows.

IDP testimony. "I have lived in Mokoto camp for the last three years. There is nothing I'd rather do than return home to cultivate my crops so I can feed my family without difficulty. We have nothing here. To make enough to survive we have to work ten hours a day in the fields of local farmers for just 1,000 francs (one US dollar)", said Galilé Karobamura before calling on the Congolese government for assistance.

"I would like the Congolese government to do something to remove armed groups from our land. Only this way will we be finally able to return home".

JRS in Mweso. The activities in the Muhanga and Mokoto IDP camps – formal and informal education, and assistance to those in extremely vulnerable circumstances – form the basis of the JRS approach to reach those populations on the outskirts of Mweso (North Kivu) throughout the past year. Similar services are offered to local communities and IDPs residing in nearby Mweso, Kashuga I, Kashuga II, Kalembe Kalonge and Kalembe Remblais camps, as well as in the surrounding villages.

Danilo Giannese, Advocacy and Communications Officer, JRS Great Lakes




Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
international.communications@jrs.net
+39 06 69 868 468