Aid workers, trying to become less visible, have stopped wearing official shirts after attackers stoned a building housing 10 foreigners, increasing fears of further attacks.
No one was hurt in the Friday attack, but officials among the 45 foreign aid groups operating in Goma said looters and other troublemakers were getting bolder and the expatriates could face further threats."This attack has raised lots of concern and I have asked by staff to take precaution," said chief CARE official Marc Gagnon, a Canadian.
Workers for the American Refugee Committee stopped wearing the gray-colored T-shirts with their group's name written on them in hopes of being less obvious, officials said Saturday.
"What you can do in a situation like this?" said Louis E. Braile, 72, a physician from Belfair, Wash. "You just hope that these mobs don't pick you up."
Unidentified attackers stoned a CARE house Friday night and fired one shot at the building. The group contacted the Zairian government, which sent a platoon of troops. No arrests were made.
The spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ray Wilkinson, said the attack was the first on the living quarters of any of the estimated 800 foreign aid workers in the Goma area. One Briton and nine Kenyans were living in the house, beside Lake Kivu.
Violence is a growing problem in the Goma camps, which house about 850,000 Rwandans, most of them ethnic Hutus, who fled their homeland as Tutsi rebels took over the country.
Most of the Hutus have not returned home, fearing retribution for the slaughter of 500,000 Tutsis during three months of civil war. The refugees, stuck in squalid camps along the Rwandan border, have begun venting their frustrations on aid workers.
Gagnon said he does not know who the attackers were. In Goma, Zairian soldiers and civilians routinely attack and loot homes. There are daily murders in the teeming camps, and aid workers have been forced to flee angry mobs.
"What is alarming is there seems to be a pattern of incidents in Goma and here that threatens aid workers," said Kris Janowski, UNHCR spokesman in Bukavu.
Nerves are also fraying at other camps in and around Goma, said UNHCR spokesman Wilkinson.