GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo—Riziki Solange vividly recalls the moment that fighting between rebels from the March 23 Movement, or M23, and government forces drove her from her village in eastern Congo’s Rutshuru district last June. “We could hear gunshots and bombs, and people were running and crying out that some others had just been killed,” she said.
There was no time for Solange, 35, to gather any of her possessions. She fled with her baby on her back and another small child on her shoulders, commanding her five older children to hold hands tightly and follow behind her. For four days they ran, passing dead bodies on the roadside before finally reaching a makeshift site for displaced people on the outskirts of Goma.
At night, Solange sleeps on the hard floor of a schoolroom, turning her wrap skirt into a blanket to warm her children. Her husband stayed behind, promising to join the family later, but Solange told World Politics Review in April that she had not heard from him in almost a year. “I don’t know if he’s still alive or not,” she said.