Fighting around Goma has pushed one of the world's biggest humanitarian crises over the edge, and the situation in eastern Congo is now worse than it has been for several years. About 130,000 people have been affected by the latest fighting and have sought refuge
in nearby camps. There is a real threat of cholera and other water-borne diseases, as power and water shortages in Goma have left people resorting to collecting water from Lake Kivu and living in overcrowded camps with poor sanitation. People are also in dire need of food and shelter.
Press release: Millions left at the mercy of militias and armed forces across eastern Congo
Since April 2012, when the "M23" rebellion launched, the number and reach of armed groups has mushroomed. The government army pulled troops out of much of the east to focus on the rebellion and other armed groups took advantage of the security vacuum. At least 25 rebel groups are now active across North and South Kivu, attacking civilians and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. A recent Oxfam report found that civilians have become
commodities of war and are forced to fund the war that devastates their lives - they not only face killings, rape and displacement, but are "taxed" and looted when farmers go to their fields and traders go to markets. People are going hungry in one of the most fertile regions of the world.
Blog: "We do not dare to go home"
People in North and South Kivu have lived for months with constant instability, and decades of conflict and marginalisation have eroded people's ability to cope with crises. They are now faced with constant displacement as they search for safety. The most urgent needs now are to get humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict, and for ordinary people to be better protected by the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers. But the underlying causes of conflict - such as poverty, the need for army reform, tensions
over land and resources, and international responses that do not take local opinions and solutions into account - must also be addressed so that people can live in peace.
In pictures: DRC displaced camps grow around Goma
In the Mugunga 1 and Lac Vert camps on the edge of Goma, and also at the Don Bosco site in the city itself, Oxfam trucks are delivering clean water and our teams are constructing new latrines to help prevent the spread of cholera, and a new more sustainable water system. We are also setting up water pumps for a new camp at Bulengo, which will help ease the overcrowding in the other camps. Our public health teams are working with committees in camps and children's groups to raise awareness of how cholera is spread. In Lac
Vert, which has seen a big influx of people in recent weeks, Oxfam teams have constructed 100 latrines, 90 showers, and are delivering 60,000 litres of safe water every day.
Video: update from Mugunga camp, January 2013
Oxfam also has ongoing programmes in other parts of North and South Kivu - in areas such as Beni, Mewso and Masisi - providing water, sanitation, cash so that people can buy food, and working with local communities to help them realise their rights in the absence of adequate protection from violence.
In Uganda we are providing safe water in Rwamwanja refugee settlement as well as building latrines and running hygiene promotion activities.We are also running special cash-for-work projects to rehabilitate roads and provide refugees with a means of earning an income.
In Rwanda Oxfam has been providing water and sanitation services to around 14,000 refugees from DRC in Kigeme camp having provided similar services in the transit camp. We handed these activities over to a local partner in October 2012.
You can help: donate to Oxfam's DRC crisis response now
Update: 18 December 2012