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Democratic Republic of the Congo: North Kivu population at riskas fighting intensifies

29-10-2008 News Release 08/198

Kinshasa / Geneva (ICRC) – As fighting between government troops and the armed opposition in North Kivu province intensifies, tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes are in urgent need of temporary shelter, water, food and medical supplies.

In Goma and in other affected areas, the situation is tense, as inhabitants are uncertain about how the latest developments may affect them.

" We are very concerned about the safety of the people who are trapped between the warring parties, and about those who have had to leave their homes because of the latest clashes, " said Max Hadorn, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. " Under international humanitarian law, all parties to the conflict must do everything possible to respect the lives and dignity of persons not, or no longer, directly taking part in hostilities. "

The ICRC is maintaining its presence in the city of Goma, but its staff are confined to their offices. Therefore, it is currently unable to assess the situation of the population or to obtain precise figures of displaced and wounded people.

The ICRC intends to reinforce its surgical team to support the hospitals in and around Goma. As soon as conditions permit, the ICRC is ready to support the displaced population around Goma with food, drinking water and essential household items. Furthermore, the organization plans to reinforce its presence in Kirumba (Lubero region), in the northern part of North Kivu, to assist the displaced who have sought shelter there.

  For further information, please contact:
  Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Bukavu, tel: +243 81 03 66 812
  Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Kinshasa, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24