Journey of fear for the displaced of Congo
Nazanine Moshiri is Al Jazeera’s East Africa correspondent, based in Nairobi.
What has shocked me the most about covering this conflict is the plight the people displaced by the fighting.
When I talk about tens of thousands of people in my broadcasts, I am sure most of our viewers can’t even imagine what that means.
I have seen women in their seventies, pregnant women and little children carrying a load of possessions on so heavy, that their backs are so bent over their heads are almost touching the ground.
We try to speak to them, but they won’t stop – preferring to keep walking.
They all tell us the same story; they are angry with the rebels, angry with the Congolese Government and angry with the UN.
They feel abandoned and are losing hope fast.
Many of them have been displaced several times in the past year, moving from camp to camp.
Some don’t walk all the way to Goma, and decide to stop at Mugunga camp – a sprawling site that reminds me of Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya, except there are no sand dunes, just lava fields.
We meet Gabandora Lawrencie and her children, sitting listlessly watching as they neighbour cooks some sweet potatoes, the aroma drifting up from her pot.
Gabandora says she has no food of her own to prepare, her children can’t play because they are hungry.
Two of her children and her husband are missing; they got separated when M23 took the town of Ruchuru in August.
The Mugunga camp was built around 18 years ago, and thousands of people have made it their home.
For the tens of thousands of new arrivals, there is very little shelter available; dozens of families are crammed into what can only be described as extremely basic wooden barns.
Some of these structures are covered with tarpaulin, and others are completely exposed to the rain and the wind.
The aid agency Oxfam says 750,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in eastern Congo this year.
It says; “there is a very real risk of complete collapse of state authority and the humanitarian crisis reaching new depths.”
What people here want to know is when their journey of fear will end, and when the international community will wake up to their plight.