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Inside DRC's Kanyaruchinya camp where residents displaced by war try to survive

Residents flee fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese forces near Kibumba, some 20 kms North of Goma, Democratic republic of Congo, Congo Saturday Oct. 29, 2022.   -  
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Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

After the shock of exile, comes the plight of displacement for residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-torn east.

Bahati Bashubage was driven out of his home by the violent clashes between the Congolese forces and the M23 rebels. 

The 62-year-old man managed to salvage his sewing machine in the hope to use it to make a living where he would find refuge . In the Kanyaruchinya camp where he now stays, he has improvized a workshop.

" I had to flee with my sewing machine, and it was very difficult to get it here as I am physically disabled. A man helped me, but once here [...] the suffering started," Bahati Bashubage lamented.

The hillside area of  Kanyaruchinya that overlooks Goma,  is now thronged with displaced people and serried rows of tents.

Staying alive

At the entrance of the camp, the cows of Batale Kibombo Joseph are grazing.

The 60-year-old only wishes for peace to prevail as diplomatic efforts towards de-escalation continue.

As he waits for the breakthrough, he does his best to slay alive.

"I just want peace to return and I hope to return to my village with a cow or two," he confesses. 

"There I will keep them in the pasture and they will drink water, they will eat and survive. Here, cows die every day. If the ones I have left spend another three days here, I will have nothing left at all."

Thousands of people displaced by the war are trying to make a living in the town located north of the provincial capital Goma. They operate small businesses or raise and sell the cattle they fled with.

"Displaced people arrived here with their cattle from Rugari and Kibumba [Editor's note: towns located in DRC's North Kivu province] and because of the climate in Kanyaruchinya, some animals have fallen ill and are dying every day", cattle breeder Jackson Lukoo explains.

"As a result, the displaced people slaughter them, they make kebabs and others eat them without worrying about the illness the animal had."

The M23 rebels, whom Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing, have been occupying localities in Rutshuru territory for months worsening a humanitarian crisis.

Fighting in the province displaced about 370,000 people by November 28, according to the International Organisation for Migration

Despite aid efforts, many displaced people complained of hunger. Cholera, a consequence of poor hygiene, has also broken out.

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