THE Salvation Army in central Africa is responding to a growing humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes because of fighting between government troops and rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of the displaced people are living in temporary camps within the country but many have fled across the eastern border, seeking safety in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Families at Nkamira Transit Camp, Rwanda, seek shelter
In Rwanda, Salvation Army project officer Major Robert Tuftström reports: 'We have had a large increase in Congolese refugees coming over the border.' During an assessment visit to the Nkamira Transit Camp in Rubavu District it became apparent that living conditions were very poor. Clean water and food is in short supply, and many people have travelled without even the most basic of possessions – including clothing. The camp was set up to house 2,500 people but it is now home to almost 8,500, with more arriving every day.
An initial payment of US$20,000 has been sent to Rwanda from International Headquarters. Following the assessment, and working alongside other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the funds will be used to provide clothing and food, with a particular focus on breast-feeding mothers.
A further US$20,000 has been sent to The Salvation Army's Democratic Republic of Congo Territory to fund the emergency supply of food to 10,000 internally displaced persons.
The Salvation Army in Uganda is currently conducting an assessment in order to decide how best to offer support to Congolese refugees.
In all three countries, The Salvation Army will look to provide as much ongoing support as funds allow. All signs point to the likelihood that the situation will worsen over the coming weeks.
Report from International Emergency Services