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Tumaini's choice in DRC: conflict or scarcity

Tumaini is a girl displaced by the M23 conflict since the end of October.

“We were sitting at home and all of a sudden we heard gunshots. Daddy and mummy were not at home but we had to run away alone.”

On Thursday 27 October 2022, the M23 armed conflict arrived in the village of Rugari, about 35 km from the town of Goma in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tumaini and his siblings took the initiative to get away from the danger without having a fixed destination.

Their objective was to get away from the sound of gunfire, and so they went as far as 35km from their home, taking refuge in the Kanyaruchinya refugee camp north of the town of Goma.

“The first day we spent the night outside before dad and mum found us the next day and dad built us this hut that seven of us share,” says Tumaini.

About two meters long and one and a half meters wide, this hut made of tree sticks and eucalyptus leaves is the new home of a family of two parents and seven children who once lived in a house and a healthy environment.

“I was in the bush making charcoal and when I came home to pick up the children I found no one. I took the road to Goma on foot, tired, I spent the night in Kibumba (20km from Goma)."

"On my way I met a child, about 2 years old, called Akilimali, who was alone on the road and who could hardly speak"

"I took him with me and I stayed with him. The next day I met my children here in Kanyaruchinya camp,” says Honorata, 48, mother of Tumaini.

The camp of Kanyaruchiya, hosting more than 30,000 displaced people, the majority of whom are children, has no access to water or hygienic latrines, according to Gato Julien, the site manager.

“We've been here for a week and we still don't have access to drinking water. We are hungry and we don't have the essentials for cooking. To you people of good will, we need your help,” Honorata said.

A few steps away from the camp, a school full of refugees that do not allow the students to study in good conditions, despite the fact that they are envied by Tumaini.

"It hurts when I see other children going to school and I can't. It reminds me a lot of my school in Rugari," shares Tumaini.

This isn't childhood. This is deprivation.

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