In eastern DRC, displaced people are multi-traumatized populations

The number of displaced people from the eastern territories of the DRC continues to grow due to clashes between armed groups and their movements. Here, displaced people looking for food in Kanyaruchinya, December 5, 2022. © Guerchom Ndebo / AFP

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2 min

At the gates of Goma, the regional capital of the conflict-ridden east, camps for displaced people are overflowing. Humanitarian agencies provide them with food and first physical and mental care. Most of those who arrive are already suffering from trauma. Report from a camp in Kanyaruchinya.


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With our special envoy in Kanyaruchinya, Coralie Pierret

Under a plastic sheet that resembles the homes of the displaced, a dozen men sing and dance in a circle. All come from Rutshuru, a territory largely conquered and controlled by the M23 armed group. Among them, a breeder from Kibumba. "I had twelve pigs, I lost them all. That's why I came... uncomfortable. I felt very bad. My pigs, my fields, my house... We lost too much," he says modestly. "I often put my hands on my head. But now I've changed. Let's do it again!


If this fifty-year-old feels better, it is because he has been given psychological first aid. A first for this farmer while he is not on his first trip, like most of the people met and followed by Ruth Kavira, psychosocial officer of Action Against Hunger's mental health project. "The first, there is an evaluation, the last day also to see if there is an improvement. Most people testify that there is an improvement. Some do not improve, such as those who have experienced acute trauma. Kavira adds that physical health and mental health are inseparable. However, many displaced people, who are multi-traumatized, are not in any therapy at all.

In eastern DRC, where conflicts have been going on for thirty years, the number of people fleeing armed men, both militias and soldiers, is increasingly numerous in this region. 1.6 million displaced in Ituri province, 900,000 in North Kivu province. Among them, the populations who fled the advance of the M23 rebels.

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  • DRC