News / Africa

Oxfam: Power, Water Shortages in Goma

Congolese flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27km west of Goma, Friday November 23, 2012.
Congolese flee the eastern Congolese town of Sake, 27km west of Goma, Friday November 23, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
As fighting continues in the eastern DRC between government forces and M23 rebels, the humanitarian crisis is growing worse. Oxfam says it’s stepping up efforts to help about 80,000 people in and around Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province.


M23 rebels took over Goma last week, disrupting humanitarian operations not only in the provincial capital, but in surrounding camps for the displaced.

Oxfam’s Christina Corbett is in Goma, where thousands of people have sought shelter in schools, churches and elsewhere. She said, “People are trying to carry on with a normal life. They’re trying to go about their daily business. Most of the shops are open. Banks are still closed, but certainly the smaller shops are all open and people are carrying on as usual, but there is certainly a feeling that they don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

There are electricity and water shortages in Goma.

“Goma is very poorly resourced to deal with the high concentrated numbers of IDPs that have come here and in the surrounding areas as well. Obviously, without enough clean water, sanitation becomes an issue, and disease outbreaks are a huge concern for us,” she said.

Oxfam specializes in providing clean water and sanitation.
It’s providing assistance at camps for IDPs, or internally displaced persons, including the Lac Vert Camp on the edge of Goma, and the Mugunga 1 camp. Construction of water systems is also expected to begin soon at a new camp at Bulengo.

Corbett said, “We’re working in two of the largest IDP camps to the west of Goma. In one of them we’re trucking in fresh water, because at the moment there is no water infrastructure there. In the other camp we were previously working there. We already had in place a water infrastructure system, which we’re now rapidly having to expand. We also are building latrines in those camps and we’re building latrines in another site in town.”

About 40 latrines have been constructed at the Don Bosco Catholic center in Goma.

“There are about 8,000 people there. They have absolutely nothing. Inside the compound, there are several buildings and people have hung plastic sheets from the sides of the buildings. And they’re just living around the edges of the buildings,” said Corbett.

Many are making their beds on Goma’s hard volcanic rock terrain.

Corbett said what’s happening in Goma is part of the bigger conflict in North Kivu Province, which is home to many armed groups. They’ve attacked and looted villages and killed and raped civilians – women, children and men.

“There is fighting in other parts of North Kivu. We know there’s fighting in Masisi. We know people are being displaced there because of the insecurity. We don’t have access, and that’s also a huge concern for us, because all eyes are on Goma at the moment. It was such a strategic prize and it’s a very important place; and it marks the latest development in the conflict. But there’s also a lot happening in other places,” she said.

The Oxfam spokesperson added that many of the displaced have lost all sense of home. She says they’re ready to move at a moment’s notice to find a new safe place.

  • Shops closed in Sake a day after M23 rebels took control of the town following overnight battles with the Congolese army, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people from the town of Sake, west of Goma, DRC, November 23, 2011. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • With IDP camps filling up since the rebellion in eastern Congo began in April, newly displaced people are sleeping in churches until they can find a place to settle, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Displaced people from the town of Sake gather at the Mugunga camp on the road to Goma, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow.VOA)
  • Families flee fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in the town of Sake, DRC, November 23, 2012. G. Joselow/VOA)

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid