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Determined to live

Displaced by conflict in the DRC, families want to go home

Sitting on a sack filled with clothes in the back of a truck, 9-year-old Faustin flashed a smile. “I’m happy because I will have a chance to go back to school where we live in Rutshuru,” he said. “I hope to see my friends Antoine and Paul again.”

The truck begins to move, perhaps marking the last time he will have to live in a camp for internally displaced people.

Faustin and his family were among some 140,000 people displaced last November around Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) when fighting between government forces and rebels flared up in the North Kivu province. After M23 rebels conditionally pulled out of the area, some families began to return home. Peace talks between the government and the rebels began in December in neighboring Uganda, but fighting and lawlessness has continued to force people from their homes.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, the power struggle between the DRC government and the M23 forces has caused “massive population displacement and suffering.”

Faustin’s family traveled back in a convoy of 11 trucks and 10 mini-buses that transported the first group of 750 voluntary returnees who had been staying at the Don Bosco Center in Goma. The mini-buses carried people needing more assistance: pregnant women, mothers of infants, people with disabilities and the elderly.

The Lutheran World Federation works with partners in the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance network to support displaced people who choose to return home or go to settlement centers. The LWF is planning to provide the returnees with three months of food assistance, seeds for planting and farm implements.


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