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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC reopens office in Bunia

28-10-1999 News Release 99/43

On 13 October the ICRC reopened its office in Bunia, in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The office, which is situated in the district of Ituri, near the Ugandan border, had been closed since August 1998. The ICRC returned to the area following the recent outbreak of interethnic violence between the Hema and the Lendu.

According to local sources, the fighting has claimed thousands of lives and many villages have been destroyed since July. The ICRC and MSF-Holland estimate that 100,000 to 150,000 people have fled their homes, and several thousand have found refuge in Bunia. The ICRC, which already distributed food and supplies to 5,750 people earlier this month, plans to assist 25,000 people in the coming weeks.

Two delegates are currently on the spot to assess the needs of the displaced and start up protection activities. They have thus visited people detained in connection with the conflict. Earlier this week an ICRC team travelled to Rethy, where other displaced people were reportedly sheltering in camps. New distributions for 3,500 people are under way.