As many people across the world celebrated ushering in of the new month of November civilians in the villages in the Rutshuru territory in North Kivu Province near the Congo and Uganda border town of Bunagana woke up to a rude shock finding that armed men had taken control of their villages. The occurrences that began on 6th November has resulted to thousands of civilians being internally displaced from their homes running away fearing for their lives. Sadly, the situation is even more compounded and made worse by the COVID 19 pandemic where people fleeing from their homes have to move in crowds for security reason observing no social distancing or other measures.
Notably, three months before the occurrences in Ruthsuru the Congolese government effected a State of Emergency in two key provinces where armed militias have been operating—the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. The State of Emergency have seen civilian provincial and local government being suspended and replaced with military generals starting from the Governor of the province going down to the village leaders. However, this has done little to safeguard the lives of civilians as more than 1300 innocent civilians have lost their lives since the State of Emergency was effected in the North Kivu Province as reported by the North Kivu Security Monitoring Group.
Sadly, as the military advances its approach in dealing with rebel militant groups civilians are not given enough support to leave their areas to safety and mostly it becomes challenging because of the guerilla tactics utilized by the armed groups. Therefore, the population find themselves in a catch twenty two situation on whether or if to leave considering leaving may put them at further risk of being infected by COVID 19 leaving them with a tough situation of choosing which pandemic to give in to,
Despite the work that has been conducted by Civil Society Organizations in the region, there is still a big gap to fill in responding to the needs of newly displaced civilians in ensuring that they can be assisted to move safely from their locations in consideration of the COVID 19 pandemic, ensuring that they are supplied with masks hand sanitizers and also that they can access COVID 19 testing facilities and vaccination in order to safeguard themselves from the pandemic. Additionally there is an increase in the need for shelter for the newly displaced persons food and medication in order to ensure that the basic human rights and needs of this communities are met.
There is urgent need for the international community to provide for these needs in an expedient manner and to any capacity possible, This is critical in order to ensure that all civil society organizations in the area can harness upon the community of nations to bounce back from the ever re-emerging conflicts and establish themselves solidly behind the Sustainable Development goals, In ensuring that durable solutions for the conflicts are attained but also ensuring that their basic needs are provided in a timely and sustainable manner, this is the spirit and rationale behind the creation of the SDGs to ensure that no one is left behind especially those from most marginalized societies like the people of North Kivu and Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.