An Unnoticed Tragedy in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Nearly 130,000 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been expelled from the neighboring country of Congo Brazzaville. They arrived in deplorable conditions with their human rights gravely violated. According to officials statements by Congo Brazzaville the government had the intention to evict all illegal and delinquent Congolese from the country. Many Congolese have been living in Congo Brazzaville for decades and several had their identity documents confiscated by the police authorities of neighboring state. Others, under unsustainable pressure decided to leave the country, while some noted that the "the situation was no longer bearable." DRC Congolese have been mainly expelled from Congo Brazzaville by the point of Ngobila Beach and were relocated on two settlements in the center of Kinshasa. Over 3,589 of them were relocated to the transit site of Maluku, 80 kilometers from the DRC capital of Kinshasa, where they are waiting for returning back to their home provinces.
On May 23, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for DRC, Martin Kobler visited the site of Maluku to consider the evidence on alleged human rights violations and sexual violence against women. He endorsed a strong support for the evicted community and urged the government of Congo Brazzaville to stop evictions under such conditions.
The Needs in the Camp
Faced with this current emergency crisis, the needs in Maluku camp are numerous with the supply of food being the primary concern. The lack of operational latrines pushes residents to defecate near the tents. Cases of chronic diseases cannot be treated as there are no medical facilities. Security issues become a problem: intimidation and harassment of girls and women were reported. To help assist and manage the constant flow of expelled Congolese, more funds are urgently needed.
In the light of this emergency, CARE participated in a food security assessment in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), World Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Caritas. CARE also assessed and identified the needs of girls and women in the camp.
To meet the basic needs of the expelled people, CARE will deliver more than 20,000 high-energy biscuits for those who arrive and plan to return to their provinces of origin in DR Congo. Nearly 15,000 purification tablets will be distributed to provide people with clean water. In addition, the most vulnerable – nursing mothers and the elderly - will receive blankets.
Nicole Kawae is a 38-year-old mother of two children and has been living for 20 years in Congo Brazzaville where she sold condiments in the market. “I am originally from Kinshasa, in DRC. I had official documents and had quite a good life when I lived in Congo Brazzaville. I decided to leave Congo Brazzaville as it became impossible to live there. We were under severe intimidation from our neighbors who repeatedly told us: "You have to go home to the DRC."
“My husband received several threats at work. ‘You, the Congolese, you steal our jobs.’ We were accused of trying to poison our neighbors with the flour that we sold. We were forced to leave the country. I have some family in Kinshasa but they do not have the money to support all my family. My family and I are compelled to stay in the camp because we have nowhere to go. We left the country where we used to live for 20 years with some kitchen utensils, our foam mattresses and nothing else. My suitcase fell down overboard during the crossing. We have nothing. I would like to start a similar small business selling condiments but I do not have the resources to do so.”
Fifi Jema is the mother of one child. She says, "I am originally from Equateur province in DR Congo. I have been living nearly 17 years in Congo Brazzaville. I am married to a Brazzaville Congolese and we had a child together. When threats of evictions started, we began to be afraid. My husband locked us at home and did not let me to go out. One day he kicked me out from home with our child. He was scared of having problems with the police and not be able defend me in case of problem. I have nothing. I left everything behind me: my job, my husband, my little savings.
I have no intention to return to Equateur Province. Though I have some relatives over there, I do not know what I could do there. I am still staying currently in camp but I hope to get a job quickly for me and my son. He had to drop out of school and I want him to continue his schooling."