Democratic Republic of Congo

Listen to Annie Desilets, Project Coordinator for MSF in Kitchanga


My name is Annie Desilets. I’m a project coordinator in Kitchanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It's funny because you think of Africa and you think it’s warm and sunny every day. And in Kitchanga we’re at quite a high altitude and it’s the rainforest, so it rains, and it’s cold. It comes down to about 15 degrees at night. And these small huts are certainly no protection for either the rain or the cold. They don’t have blankets; they don’t have plastic sheeting to protect themselves from the elements. They get food where they can, when they can. They sometimes work for the local population in their fields for a little bit of money or a little bit of food. But it’s certainly nothing to sustain a family of seven or eight people.

I met a man about 50-years-old (and looks about 75). He had been displaced in the last two months – five times. There’s been fighting in his home village and he’s moved. It calmed down for a little bit, so he decided to go back home because that’s where his field is, and that’s where he’s able to feed his family. And then the fighting broke out again. And so he’s just, you know, in the last two months, been on the move. And such trauma to think of not knowing, and being afraid, afraid for yourself, afraid for your family. He was separated from his family. So now he’s sitting, waiting to see if at some point it’s going to calm down enough he’ll be to meet up with his family again.

A lot of families that are fleeing, are fleeing to the bush. They’re not coming to the health post; they’re not coming to the internal displacement camps. They are literally fleeing outdoors in the wild, no access for us to reach them. There are no roads, we don’t know where they are. To me this is a huge concern; these people are so vulnerable to the elements, to the fighting. I mean, we see people arriving here. We’ve had about 6,000 people in the last two months, but it’s certainly by no means the amount of people that have left from the villages that we go to.

Just the utter, basic, basic, basic survival of these people is so difficult. It’s really quite heartbreaking. But it’s incredible that the strength that these people have is helping me to carry on and work really hard to provide the stuff that they need for them.

The condition in both camps is quite desperate. And although we’re here and we’re really trying to provide…providing water, providing healthcare. It’s becoming a bit of a stretch for us to be able provide everything that the people need. Like building new latrines, and building more latrines because there really aren’t enough right now. Providing non-food items, providing food distribution: these are things that we’re not able, right now. We just don’t have the capacity to be able to provide this to these people. So we need some partners, we need people that are here, that are willing to stay, that are willing to provide the assistance that’s needed for displaced people.