Natchanda Kubera from Kalehe, D.R. Congo
Natchanda is a grandmother who was displaced in 2017 following armed conflict in her region. Rebels attacked her village, pillaging the houses, raping women and killing civilians they accuse of collaborating with the army.
“I fled my home in Kalehe because of the conflicts with the armed groups. My husband was killed by the rebels. We fled into the forest and the villagers set up a camp there and we were living in the forest. But the living conditions there were too difficult for me. I am old now, and I cannot survive in the forest. I came to Minova on foot, because I heard it was a safe place for displaced people like me. I cannot return to my village, as it is still unsafe. My whole community is living in the forest but I am unable to survive there.”
Many displaced communities survive in the dense jungles of Eastern Congo, waiting to return to their villages. Others walk long distances to reach safer areas, either to live with local communities who host them, or in make-shift camps for displaced people set-up by IDPs themselves. Natchanda is currently living in an IDP camp on the outskirts of Minova town with some of her children.
“I am a grandmother now. I had 8 children in total, 4 of which are here with me and 4 stayed in Ziralo. I am taking care of the grandchildren while my daughters work on the fields. The work for them is hard. They have to carry luggage sometimes, and break stones for the roads. They earn usually about 1500 CF (about 90c) per day with which we buy a bit of food to eat in the evenings. I work as well sometimes, cultivating the fields. If I managed to save a little money, I would start a business selling flour or charcoal to feed the children. That would help my children and they wouldn’t have to work in the fields so hard.”
Photo & Story by: Clara Veale / © UNHCR 2018
The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) estimates that there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world today, but only 28.5 million are refugees and asylum-seekers. The rest do not cross a border to seek safety, but flee to other parts of their own country due to armed conflict and generalised violence. These Internally Displaced People (IDPs) often move to areas where it is difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance and as a result, are among the most vulnerable in the world. This month, Voices of Refugees would like to shed a light on the plight of IDPs with personal stories from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with the highest number of IDPs in Africa and where armed conflict and human rights violations, including killings and mass rape, have forced 4.5 million people to flee their homes.