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A camp called Rusayo: finding refuge from violence in DRC

Find out how Tearfund supporters are helping people forced to flee violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 03 Mar 2023

A woman carrying two jerry cans of clean water and a bag containing basic household items.

Angela and her family had to flee their village and take shelter in a camp called Rusayo. She says she was grateful to Tearfund for the items she received, which will help keep her family safe from disease. Credit: Nehemie Babikana/Tearfund

Between October 2022 and January 2023, more than 200,000 people were forced to flee their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in an attempt to escape what the UN has called ‘unspeakable violence’. Horrific and indiscriminate attacks compelled people to run for their lives, leaving behind their farms, their livestock, and everything else they owned. Since then, the number of people who have been displaced has increased even further.

No choice but to run

‘They had no choice,’ Tearfund’s Country Director in DRC, Hebdavi Kyeya, tells us. ‘They didn't have enough time to carry the basic things that they needed. They had to rush out of their homes and run away – just trying to save their lives. Some of them lost their lives on the way. Some of them had babies on the way. Some of them were pregnant. We're talking about women, we’re talking about children – young children, babies, the elderly, so many people who have run away.’

The situation is devastating for so many families in the region. It’s the latest in a long-running series of attacks by armed groups that has seen several East African countries send troops to DRC in the last year to try and help bring peace to the area.

Nowhere else to go

For many people, they have nowhere else to go but temporary camps. 

‘They used to have a home, they used to have a field, they used to have a place to go and call home at the end of the day. But now, this has become their home. ’
Hebdavi Kyeya, Tearfund Country Director in DRC

Angela’s is one of around 4,000 families who have sought refuge in a camp called Rusayo, near Goma. Here, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Tearfund is helping to provide people with some of the most basic necessities, but the living conditions are still dire.

‘I have been in the IDP [internally displaced people] camps since October, when we all fled from our houses leaving all behind because the [armed group] was attacking villages all around,’ explains Angela. ‘I couldn’t just [stay and] wait to see them attack our village and harm my family, so I decided to come to Goma, but I didn't find a place to stay, so I am in the camp today.’

Far from home

Angela’s home village is about 350km away from the camp. There, she, her husband and their four children were active members of a local church, they had a small farm producing maize and beans, and they were able to provide for the needs of their household. Now, they have had to leave all of that behind.

‘I trust God and I am optimistic about the future. I believe that all these conflicts and invasions will come to an end and we will go back to our villages and homes. We will get back to our farms and our kids will be back to school.’
Angela, DRC
‘We are living in very difficult conditions in the camp,’ says Angela. ‘We don’t have access to our farm to feed our children. My husband and I are obliged to do work for others around the camp so we can get something to eat. 

‘There is no access to hygiene here. There are no toilets and we and our children are sleeping in very bad conditions because of lack of shelter. Our small tent is covered by mosquito nets and old canvas that we just found here and it is exposing us to diseases.’
A camp full of tents for internally displaced people.

Around 4,000 families have sought refuge in Rusayo camp, where Tearfund is helping to provide people with vital necessities like clean water. Credit: Nehemie Babikana/Tearfund

Meeting the most basic needs

Tearfund is helping to provide clean water in the camp and plans are underway to construct 35 blocks of four toilets and 30 shower blocks with four showers in each. Basic household items like stools, basins, soap and containers to carry water in have been distributed to families like Angela’s.

Angela says, ‘I am very grateful to Tearfund for all these items that I received. It was really a need because I didn't even have anything I could use to wash my children’s clothes in, and I had no container to collect and store water, but now I have received these items and they will serve my family very well. May God bless Tearfund!’

Hope in God

In spite of the difficult circumstances, Angela holds onto her faith. ‘I trust God and I am optimistic about the future,’ she tells us. ‘I believe that all these conflicts and invasions will come to an end and we will go back to our villages and homes. We will get back to our farms and our children will be back to school.’

Angela’s prayer is that peace will be restored in the eastern part of the DRC and families will be able to live stable lives.

Pray with us for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    • Pray alongside Angela that peace will be restored in the DRC, and that families like hers will be able to return to their homes, farms, churches and schools, and to live stable lives.
    • Pray for people in the DRC who have lost loved ones or who have been subjected to sexual violence and/or other traumatic experiences as they have been forced to flee. Ask God to bring comfort and physical, emotional and psychological healing.
    • Pray for God’s provision for people who find themselves with nowhere else to go but the camps, and with no way to make a living.

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Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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