Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Congo eyewitness: 'I saw them die'

Camp for internally displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Congolese mother Anatasia Ndaonduye, 30, tells how fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo forced her and her family to flee on foot from their home in Kibumba to a camp for displaced people in Kibati.

The fighting began near our home in the middle of the night.

It was 0300 [local time/0100 GMT] when we heard the first gunshots.

There was a lot of gunfire and 'mabombi' - explosions [shelling]. Some people were caught in the middle of the fighting.

The other thing I really fear is rape because we are sleeping all over

I saw them die; and after seeing them I knew we had to run away or else we would also die with them.

At least it happened in the night because we were all together, sleeping in our home, and so we were all in the same place and so we could all leave together. My husband and our four children and myself left our home.

We all ran helping and carrying our children - there were very many of us running away.

'Life is desperate'

The soldiers told us it was Laurent Nkunda fighting against the government but I cannot be sure. I do not know exactly who it was because we did not see them all. The only ones we saw were soldiers from the national army.

See Congolese children play while they wait for food aid

There were so many of them passing by our homes that night.

There was no time to pack or even pick up anything to take with us because we were caught unaware by the war beginning again. I left everything else.

We ran through the night in the dark for a long time. The road was bad - it was rocky; and we suffered until we arrived at this camp. It is very far from our village - we walked about 20km.

We arrived with nothing but ourselves but I thank God that my family are all together. We are sleeping outside. It is raining a lot. Life is desperate at the camp; we are going through a very difficult time. We keep being told that they [aid agencies] are bringing us food but up till now it hasn't arrived and so we haven't got any food.


The father of my children has been going to look for some work to do in Goma [almost 10km away] and so if he finds work he buys some food for us but if he doesn't, we just sleep hungry.

I feel terrible that there was nothing I was able to bring with me.

We left everything - all we owned; and now we are being told that thieves went to our house and stole all our belongings.

I am a tailor; a dressmaker.

But not any more.

I left my machine at our home - my machine that I valued so much - and so if it has been stolen I cannot call myself a tailor.

What I fear most is an outbreak of disease because there are so many of us staying here, all together and so close to one another.

The other thing I really fear is rape because we are sleeping all over.

The army could rape us women. Other men could also rape us.

I ask those who are able to, to help mediate so that there can be peace. Peace is our main priority. I would also appreciate some help for all people like me who have lost our belongings. We want to be able to leave these camps and return home and take care of our children.

Of everything though, the only thing I am asking for is peace.

Peace is my first priority.

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