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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ever more civilians suffer the effects ofarmed violence in North Kivu

29-05-2008 News Release 08/90

Kinshasa/ Geneva (ICRC) – More and more civilians are suffering the effects of the lack of security in the province of North Kivu, which has persisted despite the peace agreement reached by the main warring parties.

Recent clashes in Lubero territory forced several thousand people to flee their homes. In Masisi and Rutshuru territories, the situation of displaced people and those who have returned to their home villages is constantly worsening. An estimated 100,000 people were reportedly displaced from their homes in North Kivu during the first three months of 2008 alone.

The vast majority of these people are in areas that are hard for aid workers to reach owing to security problems or poor roads. Over the past few months the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has taken action to respond to urgent needs. It has focused its efforts on areas where the need for food is greatest.

The ICRC is currently distributing more than 115 tonnes of corn flour, 19,200 litres of peanut oil, 38 tonnes of beans and 4,608 kilos of soap to nearly 9,500 displaced people in Buguri, in the North Kivu territory of Masisi – enough to cover their needs for one month. “The area is especially difficult to reach because there are basically no practicable roads,” said Fabienne Garaud, an ICRC delegate who is in charge of the aid distribution. “Moving heavy loads through the mud in Masisi is a challenge.”

In early February the ICRC delivered emergency supplies, including tarpaulins, kitchen utensils, soap and jerrycans, to these same people. In addition, in mid-May it launched an operation to bring relief to over 11,300 local and displaced people in the southern part of the North Kivu territory of Lubero.

At the beginning of March, the ICRC provided more than 5,000 people who returned home to the Rwanguba area of Rutshuru territory with food and such items as seed and agricultural implements in order to make it easier for them to once again fend for themselves.

“In this unstable and unpredictable situation, it is important to monitor closely how the real needs of the people concerned are evolving,” declared Garaud. “That is why all of the ICRC’s aid operations are preceded by thorough assessments on the ground. People’s needs and the appropriate response are not the same everywhere.”

The ICRC reminds all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to respect the lives and health of persons not, or no longer, taking part in the conflict. Civilians “trapped” in a conflict area are especially vulnerable.

  For further information, please contact:
  Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 036 68 12
  Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Kinshasa, tel:+243 81 700 85 36
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17