|Democratic Republic of the Congo – The emergency situation returns: after three years|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo – North Kivu: war and hope|
(ANS – Goma) –4 June is “International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression” promoted by the UNO. Once again without knowing it, the children in Northern Kivu will be the focus of this day which is an attempt to ensure that the rights of children in various parts of the world are not forgotten. In Goma there are people taking care of them, but who is now helping the Don Bosco Centre?
In Northern-Kivu the people are suffering greatly from the situation that has been created: all the armed groups without exception are responsible for robbery and violence against women and children, killings. In fear many people are fleeing and on the outskirts of Goma refugee camps have grown up; in four days 15,000 people have arrived, especially the elderly, women and children and help is slow to come.
“We have carried out a small investigation in a refugee camp, as we have noted 66 children suffering from malnutrition, 7 of them in a very serious condition. We have brought these latter into our Centre to give them the necessary treatment: the children in the orphanage have gone up in these days from 54 to 75. For the others we are trying to re-open a Nutrition Centre close to the camp, under the direction of the Diocesan Caritas” Fr Piero Gavioli, from the Salesian house in Goma-Ngangi says.
In the Don Bosco Centre at present there are 18 boys and one girl former soldiers; they were being cared for in a Transitional Guidance Centre run by Caritas in Rutshuru, 80 km north of Goma, as they had been traumatised by their experience. With the help of a psychologist they were beginning to find some peace of mind: then the shooting and the mortar fire from the fighting once again seriously upset them and so the Director of Caritas asked the Salesians to take them until the end of the fighting.
“The situation in the city of Goma,” – the Salesian continues, “is calm and the students are preparing for the end of year examinations. But they are no longer being fed at the Don Bosco Centre since the World Food Programme has drastically reduced the distribution of food ‘as food reserves have run out’”. The war on the outskirts of Goma has also greatly reduced the supply of farm produce and led to a subsequent increase in prices.
The Don Bosco Centre continues to do what it can for all the vulnerable people who come knocking at the door without any form of distinction of colour, tribe or religion. But the help depends on the means available and unfortunately future prospects are not good at all. “We think that it will be more difficult for people to survive. And so any help at all, however small, that we receive is always precious” Fr Gavioli concludes.