Assistance to displaced people in Goma to continue despite insecurity

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Displaced residents of Eastern DRC take refuge in outskirts of Goma UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

At least 140,000 people have been displaced in areas around the city of Goma in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the take over of the city by the rebel group M23.

This is according to United Nations aid agencies in the region.

The majority of the displaced have taken refuge in schools, church compounds and in spontaneous settlements.

The agencies say insecurity and the closure of Goma airport, which is a lifeline for humanitarian agencies in eastern DR Congo is hampering relief efforts.

The United Nations Children's fund (UNICEF) says children were particularly vulnerable and those separated from their families risk being forcibly recruited into the rebel movement.

UNICEF's Spokesperson Marixie Mercado says incidence of waterborne diseases such as cholera, is likely to go up due to limited access to clean water sources.

"Running water in Goma has just been restored; it has been shut off for over a week. There are huge numbers of children collecting water from Lake Kivu which obviously raises the risk of diseases spreading. We know of at least 115 cases of children separated from their families, but estimates are that there could be more. We are setting up listening points in areas were there are large number of displaced people. These are places were children can come to and get support and be placed in foster homes while family tracing with ICRC goes on. The M23 apparently grown significantly in numbers over the past days and there are other armed groups operating in the area which raises the likelihood of recruitment of children."

The United Nations has relocated a number of non-essential staff from Goma, but says most of its aid workers will stay to continue providing assistance to those in need as and when the security situation permits.

Patrick Maigua,  United Nations Radio, Geneva
Duration: 1’50″

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