"No one will be homeless as long as I live. My father did the same thing, and this is how I was raised," says Bienaimé* who was wondering what to give to the displaced, "when I have so little myself."
Six months ago, Bienaimé lived in his house in Oicha in DR Congo with his wife and 10 children. Since then, he has welcomed four internally displaced families, bringing the total number of people living under his roof to 38. Two of the families are related to Bienaimé.
With support from the DRC Danish Refugee Council, Bienaimé was able to have shelters and an extra latrine built on his plot for the displaced families.
The territory of Beni, in the eastern province of North Kivu, DR Congo, has seen many crises. While the Ebola pandemic that severely affected the territory of Beni in the eastern province of North Kivu in 2020 has now subsisted, the presence of armed groups – particularly the Allied Democratic Forces – continues to trigger displacement and to hinder community resilience.
The area also hosts a large population of internally displaced people from the neighbouring province of Ituri, particularly in the town of Oicha near the provincial border.
Esther* was grateful for Bienaimé’s hospitality when she arrived with her husband and six children after an attack on her village in Ituri. Yet, she admits that the living conditions were difficult as all parents slept in the same room with the children in the annex, leaving no privacy.
Pacifique*, internally displaced woman, DR Congo
A community leader quickly identified Bienaimé and his guests as potential beneficiaries of the shelter project funded by The United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund. DRC Danish Refugee Council donated construction material and contracted labourers to build an additional latrine and a shelter for each of the displaced families on Bienaimé’s plot, restoring a bit of privacy.
Pacifique* was particularly pleased to have her own house, only a month after her arrival in Oicha:
"It was more than what I expected. But life remains difficult."
Many internally displaced people, such as Esther and Pacifique, come to Oicha seeking safety. Yet, as Bienaimé points out, "insecurity remains a problem in Oicha. Because of this and the presence of the Allied Democratic Forces, we can’t cultivate our fields to feed our families. We need food for the displaced."
Pacifique can no longer earn an income by selling her vegetable on the market.
"I want to work. I do not want to spend the day waiting for time to pass. Sometimes, people hire us for casual labour, such as pressing oil, work the fields, and do laundry. It helps, but we can rarely afford more than one meal a day," she explains.
Bienaimé*, who welcomed four displaced families into his home
Despite the implementation of emergency security measures, attacks on civilian populations are a regular occurrence in the area, and several massacres have been recorded since the beginning of the year. 51 people were killed on September the 3rd, by the Allied Democratic Forces on Samboko Chani-Chani, on the border of Ituri, including at least 10 women. North Kivu has been under a state of siege since May 2021, and a contingent of US special operations forces arrived in the area to help the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo in their fight against the Allied Democratic Forces.
The Danish Refugee Council is present in the Haut Uélé, Ituri and North Kivu provinces of DR Congo, where it responds to emergencies and seeks to enhance the protective environment around populations affected by displacement with the support of the EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the United States’ Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the United Nations. These interventions focus on protection, water, hygiene and sanitation, shelter and non-food items programming, livelihoods, education in emergencies and peacebuilding.
* The names have been changed to protect the identity and safety of beneficiaries.
The project, running from October 2020 to July 2021, on a budget of USD 825,000, supported over 12,000 people of concern, including over 9,000 internally displaced people and 3,000 members of the host community. The project is funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.
DRC’s integrated Protection, Shelter and WASH approach directly contributes to reinforcing the living condition and protective environment of IDPs and conflict-affected people in Great North Kivu.
The provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, DR Congo, have seen a dramatic increase in armed violence against civilians over the past 18 months. Beyond being a threat to physical safety, the presence of armed groups also constitutes a severe threat to the mental health, livelihoods, food security, and education of people of concern – all with long-term consequences.
In the first six months of 2020 alone, nine massacres were recorded in the areas of Djugu and Mahagi in DR Congo's Ituri province. The atrocities were accompanied by continuous attacks, ambushes, and lootings carried out by the numerous armed groups operating in the area. With the technical and financial support of EU Humanitarian Aid, DRC was able to help communities develop coping strategies and start rebuilding their lives.