Today we visited the Lagabo IDP site, a 30 km drive through on dusty, grass-covered hills from Bunia town, the capital Province Orientale in eastern DRC. In August 2013, fighting between the national army (FARDC) and local militias lead to the displacement of more than 120,000 in the Irumu Territory; Lagabo grew in a matter of days from few hundred people to a village hosting approximately 23,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Despite all their recent difficulties, we encountered a warm, welcoming population which guided us through their village, providing the chance to discuss the many ways they’ve faced the challenges presented, as well as the importance of the joint humanitarian efforts in the area.
“LAPA PRIMARY SCHOOL GREW FROM 11 TO 1395 STUDENTS AT THE HEIGHT OF DISPLACEMENT…”
At Lapa Primary School, which grew from 11 to 1,395 students at the height of displacement, we saw the classrooms which were constructed, talked with teachers who were trained, and students who received school kits – all through the UNICEF-OCHA led Rapid Response to Movements of Population (RRMP) program. The School Director, Mr. Kangako, explained that the support provided was the real difference between these children being able to attend school or not.
In between our visit to the health center and water source I had the chance to talk with Esther. The mother of eight who was not only displaced, but also separated from her family before reuniting after two weeks in Lagabo. Still displaced, she spoke of how difficult it has been to provide for her family after having left all her belongings behind during her displacement.
The mattress, plastic sheeting, and cooking supplies provided as part of a non-food item fair have helped greatly, she explained, but that her ultimate hope is to return home.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TIRELESSLY TO MEET THE MOST URGENT NEEDS
Having the chance to meet members of this community I was impressed by their strength and resilience. It is clear that the humanitarian assistance remains an important tool for this community, and that when combined with the community’s hard work great differences can be made. We sent them a clear message: all of our teams alongside our partners will continue to engage and work tirelessly to meet the most urgent needs of displaced families and their host communities.
Recognizing the local authorities commitment to their work we encouraged them to continue their work, and strive to further ensure the safety of our teams and partners which is so essential to their ability to access to families who need support most.
I was impressed by Lagabo’s commitment and determination, and will remember well the message echoed by numerous people throughout the day: “There can be no development without peace.” This day was a chance to better understand the harsh realities of displacement as we search for ways in which to continue to improve our joint efforts.
Tomorrow we head to Goma, capital of North Kivu. The opportunity to meet the Governor and go to meet the displaced families living around the city… An entirely new context, in a day that looks to be just as intense.
Yoka Brandt a rejoint l’UNICEF en février 2012 au poste de Directrice générale adjointe pour les affaires extérieures. Elle dispose de 20 ans d’expérience dans le domaine de l’aide internationale et l’action humanitaire d’urgence. Tout au long de sa carrière, Yoka Brandt s’est intéressée aux questions de développement, en particulier sur l’Afrique et le plaidoyer pour l’éradication de la pauvreté.
Yoka Brandt joined UNICEF in February of 2012 as Deputy Executive Director of Foreign Affairs. She has 20 years of experience in the field of international aid and emergency humanitarian action. Throughout her career, Yoka Brandt has taken an interest in development issues, particularly with respect to Africa and the eradication of poverty.
Latest posts by Yoka Brandt (see all)
- These children are a source of inspiration for all of us - 28 January 2014
- Refugees from the Central African Republic: Shared Hope - 25 January 2014
- The humanitarian crisis continues in DRC - 24 January 2014
- Children learning to be children again - 24 January 2014
- “There can be no development without peace” - 21 January 2014