Congolese walk to a refugee camp in Gisenye, Rwanda. (2012 Reuters/James Akena, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet).
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Rebel forces overtook Goma, the largest city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on November 20, forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee for safety.
Much of the country and its borders are now under the control of this rebel group, known as the M23 rebels, and the situation remains tense.
World Vision evacuated its staff to Gisenyi, Rwanda. Aimee Manimani, a World Vision aid worker in the DRC, shares her thoughts and feelings on leaving the city of Goma.
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I am sad to leave a frightened city. I am sad to leave behind thousands of people whom World Vision supports.
I am currently in Rwanda, having been evacuated by World Vision this morning as the situation in Goma deteriorated.
My family is in Goma. My friends have taken refuge in United Nations compounds for safety. Their condition is not good — they need food and water. Thousands of people have arrived at these compounds as M23 rebels overrun the city.
I am tired of the sounds of bombs. I can’t stand them anymore.
I know what it means to be displaced. I have lived this way since 1996. I was displaced then, and we fled to a village called Muzirhu, near Walungu in South Kivu. We lived there and faced all the same sad conditions, like lack of water, latrines, and food.
So yesterday, when I heard the sounds of the bombs and mortars, I just got depressed. I started crying. I couldn’t control myself. I had to leave home again.
I started Sunday like any normal day. We went to the 9 a.m. church service, and only half of the congregation turned up. By 11 a.m., the United Nations summoned its entire staff to safe compounds.
I went home, packed some things, and went with all my bags up to the Rwanda border. I could not even find a taxi to take me there.
Like most of my fellow Congolese, I feel humiliated by everything that we are forced to go through. I feel disgusted to leave everything behind and flee. We had a normal life; we could face poverty and many other difficulties.
We could manage, all with the hope that everything will be fine one day.
But now we must flee. Parents and children have to hide under the bed, in the bushes, or wherever they would feel safe. Now thousands of parents can’t even protect their children. This makes me very sad. It’s not fair!
I am sad to leave behind family and friends. I am sad to leave a sad and frightened city. I am sad to leave behind the approximately 800,000 people World Vision supports in eastern DRC.
But I have not given up. We will return soon and continue the good work.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has endured violence for over a decade. As violence intensifies, World Vision is working to assist Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Kenya.
You can make a one-time donation to help provide desperately needed food, healthcare, and supplies to Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Uganda.