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Fleeing the conflict, Masisi | by Julien Harneis
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Fleeing the conflict, Masisi

I joined a joint UN agency mission to Mushaki, about 50km from Goma up a steep road winding through the Masisi hills. The Indian peace keeping troops had contacted the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs about a group of displaced people who needed help.

As we drove we saw trucks carrying troops and munitions heading towards the hills and coming the other way families fleeing with their few possessions.

We stopped to talk to a father with his child. He came from close to Ngungu. A neighboring village had been attacked and he packed up his family and was making the day long walk to Mugunga a camp where he had heard there was help to be found. A few hundred meters later we met with his wife and their other five children. They were tired and dispirited. After a minute or two the children’s unquenchable curiosity about digital cameras got the better of them. Sometimes I feel that I am most useful making kids giggle by fooling around with a camera.

On the journey back I saw them refreshing themselves at a fountain on the side of the road just sort of Sake, They smiled and waved, I wondered if it was the water or the relative safety of Sake that buoyed their mood.

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Taken on September 2, 2007