“If anyone has problems, everyone comes together to see how they can help. We love each other a lot,” says Kamanda Muliane.
As the fighting rages on, millions of people living in conflict areas have been forced from their homes. The vast majority live in North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale and Katanga provinces. One such area is Walikale, in North Kivu, where communities live together in unofficial settlements beyond the reach of most humanitarian organizations, with friends or relatives.
Although they struggle to find the basics such as food and drinking water and receive little or no medical care and humanitarian assistance, they pull together to survive as a community. “It’s good we met some people here. Because when they see you going hungry in your house, one woman will tell the other 'let’s get something to eat' and that’s why we’re still breathing,” says Augustin Funguo.
Out of the ashes of eastern DRC, a spirit of camaraderie rises which seems to prevail, even as people describe unimaginable horrors. Undoubtedly, a climate of suspicion and mistrust divides many communities along religious and ethnic lines but even though people are capable of committing unspeakable acts in the fog of war, genuine love and affection is also possible.
Many displaced people stay close to home settling in a relatively nearby place of refuge, in the forest or with host families for example, hoping to return home once it is safe to do so. As a result, they are often out of sight and out of reach to humanitarian agencies, which tend to operate near urban centers, so have come to rely on each other for help and support.
Some 2.96 million people are currently displaced in DRC and many of them have no access to humanitarian assistance. Many communities are cut off from medical care due to poor infrastructure, displacement and conflict, and adequate assistance is not being provided in rural and conflict-affected areas by aid organizations and by the state. At the same time, violence against civilians, medical staff and property is commonplace, and health care providers are regularly required to suspend operations, leaving people deprived of the medical care they urgently need.
Read MSF's report, “Everyday Emergency: Silent Suffering in Democratic Republic of Congo”: