Masisi, 13 October 2017 – In the eastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the territory of Masisi remains entrenched in armed conflict, ethnic violence, and instability. Within this insecure situation, thousands of families flee their homes each year.
Many of the people who leave their homes in search of safety, security, and survival never leave the DRC. They remain in formal and informal settlements, displaced inside their own country, unable to cross national boundaries and unable to return home.“The country is one of the forgotten crises of our time,” says Elisa Orbañanos, the JRS Program Director for JRS Great Lakes. “…today, the population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC is 3.8 million and, in North Kivu alone, it is estimated that 957,000 people live as IDPs.”*
In Masisi, along with other organisations, JRS supports six camps with education projects, emergency assistance, livelihood activities, and pastoral and psychosocial services.
As part of a psychosocial welfare project, workshops that cover topics such as hygiene and health, human relationships, and nutrition are organized. Particular to the reality of the conflict in this area, psychosocial support is essential for women and young girls who are survivors of sexual violence.
Funded by Entreculturas, an ongoing education project in Masisi aims to improve youth’s access to quality secondary education. Similarly, Alboan works to expand access to schooling in the area by building the capacity of local educational authorities.
“The day to day is not easy. However, every small success here means a substantial change in the life of another person…a teenager who passes the national education exam, a woman who opens who own sewing shop…” explains Elisa about the reality of accompanying people in Masisi.
“The biggest challenge is not to allow this country to be forgotten.”
Entreculturas, Alboan, and JRS will not forget and will continue to walk with IDPs in North Kivu as they wait to return home – wherever and whenever that may be.
- Photos by Sergi Camara/Entreculturas; article by Isabelle Shively, JRS International Communication Assistant.
*To read a comprehensive interview by Elisa Orbañanos click here (only available in Spanish)