Thousands of IDPs Flee Salesian Camp in DR Congo “to unknown destinations” amid Shooting

Credit: Salesian Missions

Thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have fled the grounds of Don Bosco Shasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were seeking shelter after artillery fire hit the center owned by the Religious Institute of the Salesian of Don Bosco (SDB) center.

In a Monday, March 20 report, SDBs say they were receiving and facilitating the resettlement of thousands of “war-displaced people” from the country’s four Provinces at the grounds of Don Bosco Shasha in North Kivu, Eastern DRC. 

“Recently, the use of heavy weapons by Congolese loyalist forces has caused panic for those staying on the Salesian land. As a result, thousands of people are on the run again to unknown destinations,” SDB officials say. 

They add, “Fear peaked on March 7, when rockets fired by Congolese loyalist forces stationed in the Salesian concession and its northern periphery reached Karuba, about 30 kilometers (about 18.6 miles) from the Salesian house, causing casualties among peaceful farmers in the area. The side from Karuba responded with artillery fire that fell in the Salesian concession.”

Salesians provide statistics of the aftermath of the shooting, saying, “623 displaced families, nearly 5,000 people, hastily emptied their makeshift shelters on Salesian land.”


“415 children and youth from Salesian schools and 23 teachers immediately fled Shasha. In addition, 250 sharecropper families and 20 plantation workers were also dispersed,” they further say, adding that one person was killed and two others injured by the artillery fire.

SDB officials express the hope “that the artillery fire will cease soon so people can go back to living their lives in Shasha.”

Eastern DRC has been experiencing violence for a number of years. More than 120 armed groups are reportedly fighting for control of the Eastern Congo, a region rich with natural resources. 

In recent months, one of the armed groups, the March 23 Movement (M23) has experienced a resurgence. The U.N. reported that the M23 executed 131 people in November “as part of a campaign of murders, rapes, kidnappings, and looting against two villages.”

The UNHCR reports that the protracted violence created a severe humanitarian crisis with more than 5.5 million people displaced from their homes, the third-highest number of internally displaced people in the world.

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In the March 20 report, Salesian officials say there is “a massive exodus of people and fighting” in all areas experiencing violence. 

Some of the victims of the violence in Eastern DRC are seeking refuge at Don Bosco Ngangi in Goma, SDB officials say, adding that currently, “some 28,000 people are seeking shelter on the center’s grounds.”

“Given the violence in the country does not seem to be de-escalating, Salesians are working on a more long-term solution and are launching a project to provide people with more support,” they say.  

They explain that the goal “is to provide more provisions and psychological support to the people, including education for minors.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.