As fighting rages on in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, war victims continue to flock to the Bethesda Hospital Surgery Centre in Goma.
Since the first M23 rebel uprising, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has run an operating room at the centre to provide free treatment for the wounded.
This weekend, there were reports of new attacks on villages north-east of the city, interrupting religious services and spreading terror among local people.
Fuhara Twizere is one of the lucky ones who made it to the ICRC centre.
‘The bomb went off in my house and killed my husband. He died, but I got away with a lot of injuries on my right leg from the shrapnel. The local Red Cross tried to take me to the hospital, but no one wanted to treat me because the nurses were also fleeing,’ she said.
As Furaha recovers from her injuries, she’s dealing not only with the death of her husband but has to worry about the future of her two small children born at the hospital.
‘We suggested that we should deliver the children, because we had to put her in traction to treat her fractured femur. When I spoke with her, she was already aware that her husband had died in the incident, but what remained was her great strength and concern forthe fate of her children,’ said nursing assistant, Rita Kapinga.
Influx of wounded expected
Nine people have been treated at the centre in the past few weeks, but the ICRC says most of the wounded remain stranded in combat zones without access to healthcare.
‘We may have a lot of injured once the conflict settles down, or if there is a humanitarian corridor that opens for the injured to get here, we risk getting many wounded here,’ said Annekathrin Müller, head of the ICRC’s surgical department in Goma.
With tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting between the M23 militia and government troops, the East African Community is engaged in efforts to restore peace and security in the eastern DRC, plagued by decades of war.