DRC: No Sustainable Food Security Without Just Peace
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Published on 25 July 2013

“It was very important to me to come to DRC and to talk directly to the people here. They people have the same dream: to be able to go back home. To make this dream come true, to ensure sustainable food security, DRC needs a just peace and a sustainable political solution. I will be the voice of these people for the world”, Ertharin Cousin, WFP executive director said after meeting with internally displaced people in Goma, eastern DRC. (WFP/Junior Kannah)

During her visit to DRC, WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin met internally displaced people, especially women, who are the first victims of violence. Muhami, whose little girl was abused by armed men, told Cousin her story. We are sharing it with you. As most of the displaced people, Muhami has only one dream: a just peace that will allow her to go back home and rebuild her life.

GOMA  — At the age of only 2, Muhami’s youngest child has already suffered from North Kivu’s scourge: sexual violence. 

Six months ago, Muhami had left her baby girl with a neighbour while she went into the forest to collect firewood.  When she returned to her shelter at the Mugunga 1, a camp hosting some 55,000 internally displaced people near Goma, she found that the camp had been attacked by armed men. Her neighbour panicked and fled, inadvertently leaving  the little girl behind. When Muhami found her daughter, the baby had been assaulted and severely wounded. 

The girl’s mother – whose name has been changed to protect the child’s identity – told her story to WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, who was in DRC from 17 to 20 July.

“In the camp, our children are sick the very same day they come to life, the women are delivering on the floor, women are victims of all sorts of violence,” Muhami explained to the WFP executive director. “We are asking for peace. We want to go back to our village. We want security for our children”, she added. 

Cousin was deeply shocked by Muhami’s account , and by the other stories that she had heard that day, but said it was important for her to hear those tales first-hand. 

“I didn’t want to learn about DRC and about you, the Congolese people, only by reading books and newspapers, or by browsing the internet. I wanted to listen to you and learn about you and your stories,” she said to Muhami and other internally displaced people who met with her in the camp.

Close to one million people displaced in North Kivu

“We thank WFP for the food assistance,” said Muhami, 47 and a mother of nine, who was first displaced in 1998. 

Close to one million people are displaced in north Kivu, and WFP is providing food assistance to about 600,000 people who are in the most need. 

“The people I met in Mugunga have the same dream: to be able to go back home. To make this dream come true, to ensure sustainable food security, DRC needs a just peace and a sustainable political solution. I will be the voice of these people for the world,” said Cousin after her visit to the camp.

She also called upon all armed group to permit humanitarian assistance.  

“We in the humanitarian community are neutral, impartial and independent, and our work is based only on needs, regardless of nationality, race, gender, religious, belief, class or political opinions,” Cousin said “Our only concern is the people we serve.”

“WFP will also assist the most vulnerable people in the next phase, as they rebuild their lives” when the situation stabilizes, Cousin added.