Sangamai Teka, a 41-year-old farmer and mother of 9 children (two children died while they were in exile in the forest), poses with five of her children in front of her new NRC-funded home in Mbulungu village. 

Since the attack, by armed groups, on the village in March of 2017, she has been alone and does not know the whereabouts of her husband. 

"When the war came, we ran for refuge in the forest," she explained. "There we had nothing to eat and we all got sick. Of the nine children I had, two died. I had to bury them in the forest." 

Sangamai is one of the beneficiaries of the cash-for-shelter program launched by NRC in 2017. 

Over 1 million people have returned to their homes in Kasai-Central after a year of violent conflict within the province and across the Greater Kasai Region.  Unfortunately, people who have returned have found their homes and fields pillaged and burned to the ground.  These farming communities have no shelter, no food to eat and no means of sustaining any viable livelihood.

Earlier this year, NRC visited Mbulungu and Bakuakashila, two villages ravaged by the regional conflict in 2017.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.

August 29, 2018- Kasai-Central Province, DR Congo
Photo : NRC/Aléxis Huguet
DR Kongo

Sultet i hjel på flukt

DR KONGO/Kasai: To av barna til Sangamai Teka (41) døde av sult mens familien var på flukt. Nå har familien vendt tilbake til landsbyen, der akutt matmangel truer.

Jeg måtte begrave dem der, sier Sangamai Teka, og peker inn i jungelen. Hun opplevde enhver mors verste mareritt da hun var på flukt: Barna hennes sultet i hjel.

Femten millioner mennesker i Den demokratiske republikken Kongo (DR Kongo) har ikke tilgang til nok mat. Det tilsvarer nesten en femtedel av befolkningen, og tallet har doblet seg bare siden i fjor.

Matmangelen er verst i de ti regionene i landet som er hardest rammet av vold. Den blodige konflikten mellom væpnede grupper rammet den lille byen Mbulungu i sør i mars 2017. Volden tvang 95 prosent av befolkningen til å flykte mange mil inn i jungelen og gjemme seg i månedsvis. Hjem, skoler og helsesentre ble plyndret og brent ned.

Sangamai Teka og de ni barna hennes flyktet langt inn i skogen. Ektemannen hennes løp i en annen retning, og Sangamai har ikke sett ham siden.

Sultet i hjel

I jungelen matet Sangamai barna sine med det hun kunne finne. Men det var ikke nok: To av barna hennes ble alvorlig underernærte. Til slutt sultet de i hjel. Hun begravde dem der ute i skogen og forsøkte å svelge sorgen, slik at hun kunne ta vare på de andre barna som fortsatt levde. De var også syke og underernærte.

Sangamais historie er ikke unik.

"After giving birth, I suffered with these children because I couldn't find anything to eat. I didn't have anyone. I was alone," Elamegi recalled.  "When we finally got out of the forest, I had nothing left. My house had been burned down. I didn't get anything back." 

Elamegi is one of the beneficiaries of the shelter reconstruction assistance programme launched by NRC. 

Before the conflict, only six per cent of the people living in the Mbulungu area were living on one meal or less a day.  After the conflict, nearly half of the population who has returned are living one meal or less per day.

The Greater Kasai Region has the highest rate of malnutrition in the country with 770,000 children under the age of five living with acute malnutrition—440,000 of which suffer from severe acute malnutrition.  Unfortunately, food isn’t the only exigent need in this region.

In early 2017, NRC visited Mbulungu where they met with the community to understand their primary needs.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.

August 29, 2018, Kasai-Central Province, DR Congo
Photo: NRC/Aléxis Huguet
Les billedteksten Elamegi Kankologo holder sin nyfødte datter i armene. Det første barnet hennes ble drept av væpnede grupper da landsbyen hennes ble angrepet. Foto: Aléxis Huguet/Flyktninghjelpen

Tjueseks år gamle Elamegi Kankolongo holder sin én uke gamle datter Simba i armene, mens hennes 18 måneder gamle tvillinger setter seg tett inntil. Den nyfødte datteren og tvillingene er synlig underernærte. Også Elamegi mistet et barn i konflikten.

– Væpnede grupper angrep landsbyen og drepte sønnen min. Så flyktet jeg inn i skogen, sier hun nervøst. Elamegi var gravid i andre måned da kampene i Mbulungu brøt ut. Hun tilbragte seks måneder helt alene i jungelen, og hver dag var en kamp for å overleve. Hun holdt seg i live ved å spise planter og frø som hun fant.

Alene i skogen fødte hun tvillingene Mbuyi og Kanku. De neste månedene brukte hun all tid på å lete etter mat til sine to nyfødte.

Vi hadde ikke mat. Vi sov i skogen. Vi sovnet sultne og våknet sultne.
Elamegi Kankolongo, 26

Hjem igjen

I juni 2017 ble de væpnede gruppene endelig jaget fra landsbyen. Sangamai husker godt øyeblikket da hun skjønte at det var trygt å vende hjem igjen.

– Vi kom fram fra skjulestedene våre da FNs fredsbevarende styrker kom for å lete etter oss. De ropte "Kom ut! Kom ut! Kom ut!".

Sammen med barna dro Sangamai gjennom skogen tilbake til Mbulungu. Men da de kom fram var den tidligere så rolige landsbyen ugjenkjennelig – den så ut som en slagmark. Alt var ødelagt eller plyndret.

View of the ruins of an administrative building in the village of Mbulungu. In early 2017, armed militias took control of the area. They systematically destroyed official buildings and attacked government officials. 

Over 1 million people have returned to their homes in Kasai-Central after a year of violent conflict within the province and across the Greater Kasai Region.  Unfortunately, people who have returned have found their homes and fields pillaged and burned to the ground.  These farming communities have no shelter, no food to eat and no means of sustaining any viable livelihood.

Earlier this year, NRC visited Mbulungu and Bakuakashila, two villages ravaged by the regional conflict in 2017.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.

August 29, 2018 - Kasai-Central Province, DR Congo 
Photo: NRC/Aléxis Huguet
Les billedteksten Ruinene av en administrativ bygning i landsbyen Mbulungu. I begynnelsen av 2017 tok militante grupper kontroll over området. Offentlige bygninger ble ødelagte, og offentlig ansatte ble systematisk angrepet. Foto: Aléxis Huguet/Flyktninghjelpen

800.000 barn i Kasai lider av akutt underernæring

Matmangelen har ført til utbredt og akutt underernæring. I følge UNICEF lider nesten 800.000 barn under fem år i Kasai-regionen av akutt underernæring. Halvparten av dem er alvorlig syke som følge av matmangel.

De fleste innbyggerne i Mbulungu er bønder som dyrker mat til seg selv eller som de selger på lokale markeder. Sangamai Teka pleide å dyrke et lite jordstykke, og brukte råvarene til å fø barna sine.

– Vi dro dit hver dag, sier hun, og minnes tiden før krigen. – Vi dyrket kassava og mais.

Sangamai Teka and her friend, Therèse Galula, work a field for a land owner in Mbulungu.  They are paid with meagre amounts of food for their labour.  Sangamai is a recipient of NRC's cash-for-shelter program launched in Kasai-Central in 2017.

Over 1 million people have returned to their homes in Kasai-Central after a year of violent conflict within the province and across the Greater Kasai Region.  Unfortunately, people who have returned have found their homes and fields pillaged and burned to the ground.  These farming communities have no shelter, no food to eat and no means of sustaining any viable livelihood.

Earlier this year, NRC visited Mbulungu and Bakuakashila, two villages ravaged by the regional conflict in 2017.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.
Les billedteksten Sangamai Teka og venninnen hennes, Therèse Galula, jobber på et jorde som tilhører en landeier i Mbulungu. Til gjengjeld får de litt mat. Sangamai deltar i Flyktninghjelpens pengestøtte-for-husly program, som ble lansert i Den sentrale Kasai-regionen i 2017. Foto: Aléxis Huguet/Flyktninghjelpen

Ni av ti i regionen har ikke lenger tilgang til sine egne jorder, og mange mangler frø og landsbruksredskaper. Noen har begynt å spise de få frøene de får tak i fordi de sulter. Før konflikten levde seks prosent av befolkningen i Mbulungu på ett måltid eller mindre om dagen. Etter konflikten, har dette tallet steget til halvparten av befolkningen.

– Jeg ammer barna mine fordi jeg ikke får tak i fast føde, forteller Elamegi, mens hun ser bort på sine 18 måneder gamle tvillinger. – Barna mine vokser ikke.

NRC team meeting with residents of Mbulungu village. 

Nearly 17,000 people—or close to 95 per cent of Mbulungu’s population was forced to flee into the forest when fighting broke out between armed groups in March and April of 2017.  Some had to walk up to seven days to find a safe place to hide.  Many lost family members, were assaulted and nearly starved to death while on the move.  All lived in horrific conditions not certain of whether or not life would ever return to normal.

Though calm has returned to Mbulungu and several villages and towns just like it across Kasai-Central, people are not able to continue their lives as normal.  The violent conflict of 2017 left mass destruction in its wake—homes, markets, schools, sanitation facilities and health infrastructure in complete disarray.  In fact, 67 per cent of families living in Mbulungu do not have access to proper latrines and 55 per cent have no access to soap.  These absence of these basic necessities coupled with malnutrition and lack of proper shelter can lead to a host of diseases and death.

For that reason, NRC visited Mbulungu, in early 2017, where they met with the community to understand their primary needs.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.

August 29, 2018, Kasai-Central Province, DR Congo. 
Photo: NRC/Aléxis Huguet
Les billedteksten Flyktninghjelpens team i et møte med beboere i landsbyen Mbulungu. Foto: Aléxis Huguet/Flyktninghjelpen

– Uten mer penger vil folk dø

Mangel på finansiering av humanitær hjelp er et problem over hele landet. Ni måneder inn i 2018 var kun 27 prosent av den humanitære responsplanen for DR Kongo dekket.

– Vi er glade for at vi kan hjelpe befolkningen i Mbulungu, men vi kan ikke gjøre det alene, sier Flyktninghjelpens landdirektør i Kongo, Ulrika Blom. – Det er en skam at det ikke er nok penger til å styrke kapasiteten, slik at vi kan begynne å møte de enorme behovene vi ser i Kongo. Om situasjonen ikke endres raskt, vil folk dø.

Sangamai Teka går kjapt mot jordet hun dyrker sammen med flere andre kvinner i landsbyen. De planter kidneybønner, og får betalt i geitekjøtt av jordeieren. Kjøttet skal fø kvinnene og familiene deres. Kvinnene på jordet synger, og Sangamai synger med. I dette øyeblikket virker det som at de har det bra.

– Uten Flyktninghjelpens hjelp hadde vi ikke hatt noe i det hele tatt. Det er noe vi aldri kommer til å glemme, sier Sangamai.

Vårt arbeid i DR Kongo

Flyktninghjelpen har jobbet i DR Kongo siden 2001. I dag hjelper vi innbyggere i Kivu, Nord-Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika og Den sentrale Kasai-regionen. Vi hjelper mennesker som har flyktet, lokalsamfunnene de bor i og de som har returnert hjem etter å ha vært på flukt. Vi bidrar til tilgang på utdanning, mat, viktig dokumentasjon og rettigheter til land og eiendom.

Les mer her.

Sangamai Teka, 41, a farmer in Mbulungu village, poses beside a burnt-out truck that was destroyed when armed groups attacked the village in March 2017.   Sangamai is one of the 3,000 people who benefited from NRC's cash-for-shelter programme in the villages of Mbulungu and Bakuakashila, Kasai-Central.

Over 1 million people have returned to their homes in Kasai-Central after a year of violent conflict within the province and across the Greater Kasai Region.  Unfortunately, people who have returned have found their homes and fields pillaged and burned to the ground.  These farming communities have no shelter, no food to eat and no means of sustaining any viable livelihood.

Earlier this year, NRC visited Mbulungu and Bakuakashila, two villages ravaged by the regional conflict in 2017.  NRC used its “community-based approach” by consulting with these communities to better understand their primary needs, to properly target the most vulnerable people and facilitate their ability to choose the assistance they require.

This intervention, however, is only a drop in the ocean of the vast needs of this community.  NRC is currently the only humanitarian actor in the zone and funding is not enough to address other acute needs such as food assistance, household items and education.  The Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 25 per cent funded eight months into the year.  Humanitarian capacity is critically low.  If donors do not act now for the people of Mbulungu and for the rest of DR Congo, it will be too late.

August 29, 2018- Kasai-Central Province, DR Congo
Photo : NRC/Aléxis Huguet
Les billedteksten Sangamai Teka står ved siden av en utbrent lastebil som ble ødelagt da væpnede grupper angrep landsbyen i mars 2017. Over én million mennesker har returnert til sine hjem i Den sentrale Kasai-regionen etter ett år med voldelig konflikt i hele Kasai-området. Dessverre har folk som har returnert funnet hjemmene og jordstykkene sine plyndret og brent til grunnen.. Foto: Aléxis Huguet/Flyktninghjelpen
Hjelp mennesker på flukt fra krig og konflikt