The dire civil unrest in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has led to the displacement of millions of people. Now forced to live in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps, ramshackle villages crowded with tents and full of disease, thousands of people are struggling to meet basic needs. EFM Congo Director Marcel Serubungo and his team have been working in villages where fighting between the DRC government and the rebel group M23 has been raging. Rebel forces have maintained control of the territory for over a year. People in villages outside Goma, like Kibumba/Buhumba, where Marcel has conducted peace and reconciliation training in local churches, have been forced to relocate to IDP camps. They are at high risk for disease, malnutrition, and death.
Hundreds of thousands have left their homes since late 2022 due to fighting between M23 and Congolese forces, adding to the millions already internally displaced. Violence within IDP camps is common, including gender-based violence. Thousands have been killed while sheltering in camps or en route to their homes. Today, nearly 7 million Congolese are displaced in one of the largest global humanitarian crises. Conditions are expected to worsen into the new year.
Pastors and women leaders from Kibumba/Buhumba contacted Marcel to ask for help. “They called by phone and said that they are all very hungry and asked me to send the prayer requests of hunger to [EFM],” Marcel explains. Seeking to provide food but unable to accommodate large numbers, Marcel responded by securing a donation of rice and corn flour from EFM. These leaders will distribute the food to people from their own congregations living in the IDP camps. Twenty-two people arrived at EFM Congo headquarters in Goma in the middle of November to receive sacks of rice and corn flour. Eight of these people believed God was telling them to remain in Kibumba/Buhumba despite the fighting surrounding them. They have secured themselves in a church there, praying continually for an end to the conflict. Although M23 knows they are there, they have remained unharmed. These, too, arrived to receive the donated food.
“Because of your compassion, children will smile for some days.”
Reverend Maniraguha Hangi, representing the leaders, said they didn’t know what their people were going to eat that day. “Because of your compassion, children will smile for some days.” They thanked EFM: “May God bless you and everything you undertake abundantly,” they said.
Marcel asks people to pray for an end to the hostilities so people can leave the IDP camps they’ve called home for over a year. The last time he conducted training in Kibumba/Buhumba was July 2022. Marcel shares his hopes: “The war is still ongoing and we think that the weapons cannot bring a sustainable solution…. We believe in the power of prayers that can change things that men cannot think of. One day, the war will stop and we will go once again to serve the most vulnerable.” Restoration workshops in Kibumba/Buhumba and surrounding villages someday. Until then, he is a crucial link to helping the people he knows meet basic needs.
Right now, there is a need for clothing, especially among women and children. Many fled their homes without adequate clothing, not expecting to become displaced for very long. Parents are also concerned about their children who are not able to attend school, or who attend without adequate school supplies. If funding is available, Marcel hopes to provide additional food and clothing to people from Kibumba/Buhumba and their neighbors.
It is because of your generosity that we are able to assist with a food distribution like this. More help is urgently needed. Will you enable us to bless not only Marcel’s congregations but others, through the local church?