Following the terrible civil war in Rwanda 25 years ago, thousands of people fled to Goma in the province of Kivu in the Congo. Helimission was there with two helicopters and provided aid.
We flew missions with UNHCR, THW (German Technical Relief Organization), Doctors without Borders, OXFAM and other relief organizations, ensuring water supplies for two camps with 27,000 and 200,000 refugees respectively. The water was extracted from a nearby lake with a “Bumbi-Bucket” (an external load container for helicopters) and flown to the assembled water purification plants. We also distributed medication, tarpaulins and many other things. Thousands of people died of cholera, weakness and diseases etc.
And today? Ebola, measles, violence! Is another catastrophe of this scale threatening to happen again?
According to media reports, the current Ebola epidemic has already claimed more than 1,790 lives in the country, particularly in the Kivu region. The second case has now been discovered in the megacity of Goma. One of our loyal local staff reported days ago that the epidemic was spreading throughout the Goma region. The disease is very contagious. Due to the worsening situation, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola crisis an international health emergency.
According to Doctors without Borders, for the people of Congo, Ebola is just one crisis among many others. Add to this the massive measles epidemic and the peak of the malaria season. Mass displacements and recurring outbursts of violence make the situation even more precarious. For many people, their primary concern is not Ebola, but the medical care of their children who are dying of measles or other diseases. Another concern is how to find adequate shelter and security.