October 30 2008

SOS Children's Villages in DR Congo calm, but cautious

30/10/2008 - Though the fighting between rebel forces and government troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo has ceased for now, thousands of civilians are fleeing the dangerous areas. SOS mothers in the SOS Children's Village in Bukavu are stocking up on food supplies - just in case.


Photo: Chris Sattlberger
Fighting has not yet reached the SOS Children's Village Bukavu - Photo: Chris Sattlberger
Renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda's rebels declared a ceasefire after reaching the gates of the city of Goma, an important trade city located some 230 kilometres to the north of SOS Children's Village Bukavu. Congolese government troops and UN peacekeepers are patrolling the streets of Goma after several cases of shootings, rape and looting. UN secretary Ban Ki-Moon has warned of a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions, as thousands of civilians flee their homes in an effort to reach safer regions.

Along with the fact that food supplies for Bukavu, which traditionally come from Goma, have been cut off, the influx of refugees from the north has caused further scarcity of basic foods and products on the markets of Bukavu, leading to a sharp rise in prices, as Marthe Kangene, director of  SOS Children's Villages in the DRC, has reported. "The SOS mothers are buying food to stock up their supplies in case the situation worsens. The mothers, the children and the staff are calm, although a feeling of anxiety and generalized fear is in the air."

Photo: Catherine Ngo Biyack
Life goes on as usual for the children - Photo: Catherine Ngo Biyack

Nevertheless, life in the villages of Bukavu and Uvira, located at about 110km from Bukavu, continues as normal, SOS mothers and staff are going about their work as usual and the children are still going to school.