Crisis in DR Congo: “We go days without food or sleep”
More than two million people have been affected by the humanitarian crisis in Grand Kasai, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Handicap International has sent emergency specialists to support its teams already working in the field. Sulu Bellarmin, who works as the organisation’s driver and a logistics assistant, tells us what life is like in Kasai.
Sulu Bellarmin, who works as a driver and logistics assistant for Handicap International's team in Kasai, DR Congo. | © Handicap International
What impact has this crisis had on local people?
"There’s a strong climate of insecurity: people are being murdered, raped, and their homes are being destroyed or burgled – everyone’s afraid. Thousands of people have been displaced, some have taken refuge with relatives, others are living in makeshift accommodation in rural areas."
"In terms of the economy, the railway transporting foodstuffs in the town of Kananga is no longer in operation and prices have rocketed. Because of the insecurity, people no longer sell food to families by bicycle. There’s a severe shortage of medication, food, and essential times, such as hygiene products. The situation is critical."
How has your family been affected?
"My family and I have been very badly affected. We’d never experienced a conflict before, with bullets coming at you from all sides."
"We go days without food or sleep, and worry that maybe there’s going to be an attack in our neighbourhood, which is getting emptier by the day. We have been displaced to a more expensive and smaller house where we’re relatively safe. Things are very worrying."
What are working conditions like now?
"We’re all working under pressure in a tense situation. I’ve been involved in the logistics side of things - purchasing, accommodation and supplier research, and so on - since the start of the emergency response, and I still work as a driver."
"Handicap International is implementing an emergency response to help victims of this crisis, particularly by providing rehabilitation care to casualties and helping to transport humanitarian aid to remote areas. It puts my mind at ease to know that I’m helping the most vulnerable people. That’s one of my top priorities."
Learn more: Handicap International in Kasai
Present in Kasai since 2015, Handicap International has sent a team of emergency specialists to expand its response to this crisis. The organisation also provides rehabilitation care, distributes walkers, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids, and provides psychological support to victims. Handicap International also assesses the situation facing the victims of violence in order to better protect them and to train local organisations to identify the most vulnerable people.
Handicap International helps to transport humanitarian aid to people living in areas that are difficult to access or unsafe. Lastly, Handicap International is also planning to distribute food and essential household items, such as cooking utensils and hygiene kits with soap, to thousands of affected families.