Brenden Williams, a CRS staffer who worked in Goma until being evacuated, describes the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent days. Catholic News Service, in a story posted on U.S. Catholic, writes:
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The sound of exploding shells near Goma, Congo, was minimal, but it was enough for Catholic Relief Services staffer Brenden Williams to know it was time to leave.
Packing up a few belongings and coordinating with the rest of the CRS international staff, Williams, his wife and 19-month-old daughter left their home outside of Goma Nov. 19 and made their way to Gisenyi, Rwanda, a few miles away. After three days, the CRS operation relocated to the Rwandan capital of Kigali, about 100 miles from Goma.
Williams, program quality manager for CRS, has since spent his days helping coordinate relief in the face of a growing rebel uprising in the mineral-rich region of eastern Congo. M23 rebels gained control of Goma Nov. 20.
“On Monday morning, we heard shelling coming across the border and decided to evacuate,” Williams told Catholic News Service Nov. 29. “It was more preventative.”
Since Williams and his family left, thousands of Congolese have fled their homes in Masisi, northwest of Goma, relocating to five camps around the city. Williams said he kept in touch with Congolese working for CRS who stayed behind in Goma to help in whatever way they could.
“The vast majority of the movement of these populations is preventative. We don’t get a sense that these civilians are being specifically targeted. They’re moving so they don’t become collateral damage,” Williams said.