Three months ago, the violent inter-community clashes in Yumbi claimed hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee their homes. Today, residents of this small area north of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are struggling to recover.
Thousands of families are still homeless and are finding it difficult to feed themselves. The violence swept away their homes and their means of earning a living.
Most have had to move in with relatives or neighbours. But even that is difficult. “I’m sleeping on a mat, on the floor,” explains Moseka, who is in her fifties. Her grandchildren were staying with her when her house was burned down. Three of them died. She suffered serious burns. For the time being, she is staying with her son.
There is no shortage of solidarity among those who have suffered so much, and people are sharing what food they have, but once it is gone they have no means of getting more. The people in this area live mainly from fishing along the River Congo, but they have lost their fishing boats and equipment.
Farmers have missed the beginning of the farming season, which was in February. Calvin Mastaki is an agronomist for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “People have lost almost everything they need to survive,” he tells us.
The distrust between farmers and fishermen is still palpable. They used to exchange produce, but right now they don’t even talk to each other. And that means that no-one gets food.
The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC distributed food to over 15,000 people between 13 and 18 March. This involved a major logistical effort, as the River Congo is virtually the only transport route in the region.
The ICRC is asking the authorities to take all measures necessary to significantly reduce tension between communities, protect the population and facilitate access to the region for humanitarian organizations.
The communal violence of 16, 17 and 18 December 2018 in Yumbi (Maï-Ndombe Province) had serious consequences. According to the United Nations, over 500 people were killed and 16,000 were displaced. Hundreds of houses, schools and health centres were burned down or otherwise destroyed.
For further information, please contact:
ICRC Kinshasa (Pedram Yazdi): + 243 817 008 536
ICRC Geneva (media secretariat): + 41 79 217 32 32
Locations: Yumbi and surrounding area, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Running time: 3’54”
Format: HD ready (720p) H264 Mov
Camera and editing: Jonathan Nsalimbi
Languages: Lingala, French
Date: March 2019
Copyright: ICRC, access all
00:00 – 00:04: Food distribution site, island of Nkoto, River Congo.
00:05 – 00:08: An ICRC truck prepares to unload food and other essential supplies. The ICRC sent seven truckloads of supplies by barge from Kinshasa to Yumbi along the River Congo, a 300-kilometre journey that took seven days.
00:08 – 00:16: ICRC and DRC Red Cross personnel unload food and other aid (two shots).
00:17 – 00:30: Mervienne collects her supplies and goes off to load them into the boat (three shots).
00:31 – 00:37: Mervienne eats to build up her strength before moving off to an island on the River Congo (three shots).
00:38 – 00:44: Interview with Mervienne, who has received emergency aid from the ICRC. She fled Yumbi and took refuge on islands along the River Congo (Lingala, 6 seconds).
“For us to eat, my husband has to go fishing. We can then sell the fish to buy food.”
00:45 – 00:59: Mervienne leaves the island of Nkoto (where food was being distributed) for the island where she is currently living (three shots).
01:00 – 01:04: The flags of the ICRC and of the DRC Red Cross.
01:05 – 01:19: Interview with Calvin Mastaki, ICRC aid specialist (French, 15 seconds).
“They’ve lost virtually everything they depend on to survive.”
“Their boats have been destroyed, they’ve lost their nets. They’ve all had to start again from nothing.”
01:20 – 01:31: Destroyed houses (three shots).
01:32 – 01:48: Interview: Tisha, who has lost her house, is now living with Catholic priests, along with her family. (Lingala, 15 seconds).
“Before, I sold groundnuts and bananas and took on odd jobs to feed us.”
“I could cope, but now I’ve lost all that.”
01:49 – 02:08: Nisha goes to the river to wash up (two shots).
02:09 – 02:20: Nisha washes plates (three shots).
02:21 – 02:26: Portrait of Nisha (two shots).
02:27: Interview with Moseka, who has lost everything and is now living with her son (Lingala, 18 seconds)
02:27 – 02:33 “I spend every night on a mat, on the floor.”
02:34 – 02:42: “No pans, no plates, no beakers, no clothes, not even a bucket to wash in. That’s what it’s been like for the last three months.”
02:43 – 02:45: “My children are looking after me as if I was a baby.”
02:46 – 03:01: Moseka looks at her house, which has been destroyed (four shots).
03:02 – 03:13: A barge chartered by the ICRC finally arrives at the island of Nkoto (two shots).
03:14 – 03:25: Red Cross personnel unload aid supplies (four shots).
03:26 – 03:54: Supplies are transferred from the barge to the truck that will deliver them to the distribution site.