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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC steps up efforts to help displaced people and their host communities

15-05-2009 News Release 09/102

Geneva/Kinshasa (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its humanitarian activities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in response to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation that has taken place since autumn 2008.

The lack of security arising from ongoing clashes and military operations is exacerbating the already bleak conditions for displaced people (IDPs) – estimated to number more than 300,000 – and their host communities in North Kivu and is having a devastating impact on people's livelihoods.

As a result, joint ICRC and Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo assistance programmes for displaced people, their host families and returnees in the Kivus will be more extensive than originally planned. To finance the expanded activities, the ICRC is asking donors for over nine million Swiss francs in additional funding, bringing its total 2009 budget for the DRC to over 62 million francs (more than 55 million US dollars).

" The lack of security currently being experienced is mainly due to skirmishes between armed entities and attacks on the civilian population – mainly in southern Lubero and in Masisi and Kalehe territories – marked by a high number of violations of international humanitarian law, " said Max Hadorn, head of the ICRC delegation in Kinshasa. " The entire population is becoming increasingly vulnerable with each new wave of displacement, and some families have lost literally everything. But the worst is that they don't know what tomorrow will bring for them. "

This budget extension will enable the ICRC and the DRC Red Cross to maintain and extend ongoing assistance programmes so that more people will benefit. By the end of the year, 244,000 people will have been provided with essential household items, 80,000 displaced people with emergency food rations and 195,000 people with seed and tools. In some cases, seed an d tool distributions will be coupled with emergency food rations to enable those receiving the aid to grow food after returning home.

Other clear priorities for the ICRC and the DRC Red Cross are to reunite unaccompanied children with their families and to enable people who lost track of their loved ones as they fled to re-establish contact with them. The ICRC is currently striving to bring together unaccompanied children – some of them child soldiers – and 500 families looking for them.

The ICRC urges all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. It reminds them of their obligation to protect and respect civilians, wounded people and people who have been deprived of their freedom in connection with the armed conflict.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 700 85 38 or +243 810 366 812
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17