My Week: Jaya Murthy, Unicef Aid Worker

The Unicef aid worker describes the difficulties in getting food and medicine to refugees in Democratic Republic of Congo


Monday


Heavy fighting broke out yesterday between the Congolese army and the Tutsi rebels about 30km outside of Goma. Many people are dead and tens of thousands of people have been displaced and have had to flee to avoid the fighting. Some people have managed to find camps; others have sought shelter in churches and schools; others are just outside. People start arriving at our camp just outside of Goma and our first priority is to get clean water for them. I help to oversee setting up an efficient water trucking operation.

Tuesday

We set up a registration point for children who have been separated from their families during displacement. Often when people flee, families get separated and it makes children more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and violence. We try to identify the children and trace their family name. If we can't find the children's families they have to stay with other families in the interim. Since Sunday we've identified about 200 children and 50 children have been reunited with their families. There are about 1,600 children whose family tracing is still ongoing.

Wednesday

We evaluate the situation to see what other needs there are so we can plan responses. We realise we need to get emergency measles vaccinations for the children. After displacement, children are obviously far more prone to malnutrition which makes them incredibly vulnerable to contracting diseases. I help to oversee the distribution of high-energy biscuits and set up a feeding centre. We have huge warehouses of supplies here so we're well prepared. In the afternoon things change and the Congolese army retreats into Goma. Hundreds of thousands of people who were outside Goma follow them, which brings great instability and insecurity. Shootings begin all over the city. We have to suspend our emergency operations and we're close to being evacuated. Reports of killings and rapes in the city come through.

Thursday

There is a ceasefire today and government negotiations take place, so it's much calmer. But our operations are still suspended. It's very frustrating to just sit around and wait. We feel very helpless.

Friday

The ceasefire is continuing to hold and we find a small window of opportunity to go to the camps outside Goma to provide emergency assistance. It's very chaotic. There are thousands of people at the distribution point when we arrive, all craving assistance. It's a desperate picture. We organise enough medical supplies to help 24,000 people over the next week and again try to maintain clean water supplies. Things are calmer but we will be following the situation closely. Thousands of children are relying on us.

www.unicef.org.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick