Oxfam worker reveals true cost of war

Oxford Mail: Christina Corbett in DR Congo Christina Corbett in DR Congo

AN OXFORD woman who spent two months in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spoken about the hardship she witnessed.

Christina Corbett, pictured, humanitarian press officer for Oxfam, talked about the sharp contrast between the poverty she experienced in the refugee camps in DRC and the “consumer frenzy” of the UK.

The troubled country has seen an estimated five million deaths following the outbreak of the Second Congo War in 1998, with fighting still ongoing in parts of the country.

Ms Corbett, 32, from Iffley Road, said: “I was going out to try to raise the profile of the situation in DRC.

“It has been going on for ages and it’s a story that is full of so much grief and horror it is almost incomprehensible.”

Flying out in October, she spent two months in the country talking to people at the Don Bosco compound in the Majengo district of Goma, and the Lac Vert camp to the west of Goma.

It is estimated more than 914,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since April 2012 as a result of the ongoing conflict. While Ms Corbett was out there, fighting broke out near one of the camps, uprooting thousands more people who had been making a makeshift home for themselves at the compound.

She said: “The conditions that people live in in the camps are appalling.

“I met people who just kept on living against all the odds, people whose lives have been turned upside down again and again.”

That included 60-year-old Mwavita Immacule, who has had 11 children, only six of whom are still living.

Ms Corbett met the mother both before and after the recent fighting.

She said: “She would always get a little bench and sit us down and was really articulate and would talk about her memories and how she felt.

“She was always well-dressed and took a pride in her appearance. She was still trying to keep what was left of her household together – in a place that wasn’t her household.”

Oxfam is building latrines at the Don Bosco compound and trucking water to Lac Vert until a pipe connecting the water infrastructure is connected.

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