Food For The Hungry Aids Refugees In Congo

Food for the Hungry
Tuesday, 22 January 2002

Food for the Hungry is supplying food and survival kits to refugees in the Congo who lost everything due to the volcanic eruption in Goma on January 17, 2002.

More than 400,000 people were forced to evacuate when molten lava destroyed their homes. Food for the Hungry staff in Bukavu report that 75,000 refugees have already arrived in the city, and they estimate that as many as 75,000 may be on their way.

Food for the Hungry's Congo Program Director Michael Satin believes that a large percentage of the refugees in Bukavu will chose to remain in the area.

"A typical scenario would include the fact that the displaced persons will move into home with family members, friends and acquaintances, thus putting a great deal of responsibility for care of the displaced person on the host families," Satin explained.

Food for the Hungry intends to help not only refugees living in camps, but "hidden" refugees who have sought refuge with family members as well.

As the only non-government organization currently addressing food security in the eastern Congo region, Food for the Hungry is gearing up to provide 140,000 refugees with survival kits, containing staple foods such as beans and rice, as well as necessary household items like blankets, cooking and eating utensils, soap, and chlorine tablets for water treatment.

In addition to worries about food security and shelter, the UN has expressed concern about the water situation in Goma. Although the water treatment plants were not destroyed, there is currently no electricity to run them. Officials fear that people will drink the contaminated water from Lake Kivu, ultimately resulting in a cholera outbreak.

Although the UN has set up two refugee camps in Rwanda, most of the Congolese feel they have spent more than enough time in refugee camps and have chosen to remain inside the Congo.

Food for the Hungry has been working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the Rwanda genocide in 1994 forced Rwanda refugees to flee to the area. Food for the Hungry remained in the Congo to help rebuild the region, through food, seed and tool distributions, and they are planning to remain in the area while the Congolese recover from the aftermath of this recent natural disaster.

Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 and helps some of the world's most needy people in 30 countries through child development programs, agriculture and clean water projects, health and nutrition programs, education, microenterprise loans, and disaster relief. For more information, or to make a donation, call Food for the Hungry at 1-800-2-HUNGER or visit our Web site.

For more information, or to contact Food for the Hungry, see their website at: www.fh.org

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