On November 19, 2012 rockets and heavy mortar fire from advancing M23 troops landed within Goma. HEAL Africa received 30 of the wounded from an explosion in Birere near the hospital. The troop movements drove internally displaced persons residing in camps in Kanyaruchinya, originally from Rutshuru and Kibumba, towards and into Goma by foot.
Later in the day Dr. Justin Lussy reported that the M23 had taken control of Goma after intense gunfire in the center of the city and around the airport. The crowds of displaced people coming in from the north moved through Goma fleeing the fighting to camps to the west, while HEAL Africa hospital staff worked as the functioning trauma center of choice in Goma.
On November 21st, the power was off in Goma. Staff at the HEAL Africa hospital worked around the clock to stabilize and treat the wounded, working with dwindling medical supplies and off the power of a generator. The incoming wounded on the 21st were mostly injured by bullets in the crossfire.
The hospital sent out a team to locate and assess the needs of the displaced persons camp that had relocated and grown in Mugunga.
The situation on the ground in Goma worsened in the following days. HEAL Africa hospital was a fully staffed functioning trauma center running out of medical supplies and generator fuel. Dr. Margaret Salmon pleaded to the international medical community that, “As leaders of some of the worlds largest NGO’s, I appeal, we must be able to do better than this”. HEAL Africa’s Dr. Luc Malemo described the unfolding events powerfully and succinctly, stating that, “tomorrow is uncertain”.
Thanks to your rapid response and desire to help, we were able to wire out $20,000 on the 21st of November. Dr. Jo Lusi, in Rwanda, received the donations and used them to purchase medical supplies and fuel.
HEAL Africa staff and patients shared their experiences in a series of inteviews hosted on the HEAL Africa website. HEAL Africa patient, Albertina Lubanda spoke to the exhaustion of the Congolese people with the violence stating, “Now, we don’t know what will happen next, and we don’t know what everyone else thinks, but we only want peace, no matter who leads us”.
Emmanuel Bahafikiwariji was shot as his family was fleeing Goma towards Mugunga to the west. Because of your help HEAL was able to treat him and others like him, who were caught in the crossfire.
HEAL Africa continues to receive patients, most coming from far away and in poor condition. The “bush is fully occupied by various militias and military”, which is driving more people to the internally displaced camps. The new arrivals are exhausting already scarce resources and deplorable conditions have worsened.
HEAL Africa conducted an Emergency Team Rapid Assessment on November 22nd to identify the problems and needs of residents in the following internally displaced persons camps: Mugunga I, Mugunga II, Mugunga III, Green Lake and Don Bosco. HEAL Africa was the first assessment team to arrive in the IDP camps, getting important information out to the international community about the needs for relief and aid.
Dr. Jo Lusi returned with the medical supplies and fuel to Goma on Friday November 23rd. We have received a report on purchases, and will send out an additional transfer today.
As long as militias and militaries vy with each other for land, and there is no clear outcome or negotiated settlement, the displaced people have little hope of returning home in the near future. In the wake of the chaos and confusion as to who is in charge, the poor and vulnerable are suffering and at risk. The commitment of those who are trying to provide help to the vulnerable in the face of crisis remains both difficult and dangerous. The eastern Congolese community faces uncertainty with each day, not knowing who is in charge or when life will return to any normal rhythm.
The people of North Kivu (the size of western Washington with about the same population) are desperate to hear someone speaking truth to them. They live with uncertainty and fear. In the midst of the conflict, who is working on behalf of the most vulnerable? We have sought to partner with Congolese who have a vision that supports everyone in the community. We thank you for your help.
HEAL Africa Congo urgently needs your supplemental financial support for shelter, food, water, support for those who have been wounded, raped or are sick as a result of the war. Whether it's $5, $50 or $500, every bit makes a difference in emergency situations like this one. Click here to give.