Jean Berchmans Nzisabira, Chief of Mission for Terre Sans Frontières in the Democratic Republic of Congo, dropped by our offices in La Prairie. He manages a team of thirty or so individuals who carry out a support project for Central African Republic refugees and returning Congolese populations, in the Province Orientale, in the North East of the country. This project is funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“In Ango, we distribute basic foodstuffs such as beans and flour to 210 refugee families since they don’t have any fields to cultivate. We also provide materials such as tents and pots and pans, and we have started building infrastructures namely schools, health centres and houses”, explains Mr. Nzisabira. This is all made possible thanks to a warehouse containing 250 tons of food provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), which must be replenished regularly. “However, from Bunia, 10 to 20 days are needed by truck to reach the warehouse”, states Mr. Nzisabira. Avions Sans Frontières’ support to this project is therefore very important since it allows for quick responses to health and protection of people, as well as for moving materials and supervision staff. The second component of the project consists in supporting the reintegration of the Congolese people who are coming home after having fled the violence by rebel groups by taking refuge in Uganda, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. “There are approximately 200,000 people who need help. We distribute foodstuffs and essential items and we will eventually provide housing”, says Jean Berchmans Nzisabira, while mentioning that the area is not completely secure, as several rebel groups remain active and mobile in the region. There is a wide range of needs. The population is increasing while the infrastructures are run-down or have been destroyed by the war. The situation in the education sector is of particular concern. “Throughout the DRC, the enrolment rate is approximately 75%, but in our intervention zones, it is less than 50%. Many children do not go to school, too many women abandon their studies, there is a great need for empowerment and motivation amongst school staff… the needs are huge in this sector”, states Mr. Berchmans Nzisabira, while hoping that Terre Sans Frontières will be able to increase its work in collaboration with new partners in the region, like UNICEF. “The populations have developed resilience mechanisms. They want to regain control of their lives. They are doing what they can with what they have but they need guidance in their resilience”, insists Jean Berchmans Nzisabira, a Canadian born in Burundi who has been a friend of TSF since the 1990s, when he worked for a partner NGO of TSF in Burundi