Tens of thousands of people are now seeking refuge in Kibati camp on the outskirts of Goma in eastern DR Congo.
The recent influx of internally displaced people here is the direct consequence of the conflict that continues to devastate the country. I was part of an assessment team to Kibati this week. As we arrive, waves of people continue to flood the already overcrowded make-shift camp. They carry the little they manage to salvage when they fled their homes.
26-year-old Jeanne and her family have not eaten since they arrived at the camp on Monday.
“We were working in the fields when we heard shooting and there were bullets around us,” she says.
“So we ran away with just the clothes on our backs – we have nothing. We heard news that four of our neighbours, who tried to return to save some of their belongings, were shot dead. We do not dare go home.
“It took two days for me, my husband and three children to get here and we have not eaten since we arrived here on Monday, we do not know what we are going to do.”
Those who can have sought shelter in schools, churches and host families but many people we talk with have spent their nights under the elements. Only 13 per cent of water needed is currently being provided to the camp and cramped conditions mean that the risk of disease spreading is almost certain.
“The rain last night saved us. We are lucky; had it not been for the downpour we would have had nothing to drink for another day,” says a group of people now living in the local school.
We speak to a doctor at the local health centre which is the only medical facility for the 23,770 people who live in this area. With the recent arrival of thousands of people the already stretched health centre cannot cope.
The doctor tells us that many children are arriving with severe cases of diahorrea. With little or nothing to eat and few sources of clean water, he fears the worst for them. “There is no cholera yet but in these conditions there is a huge possibility it will come,” he says.
Over the next few days Oxfam will be responding to the situation in Kibati camp by trucking clean water to the community living there.