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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Civilians must be spared the fighting in Goma

23-05-2013 News Release 13/100

Geneva/Kinshasa (ICRC) – Inhabited areas north of the city of Goma, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were hit by shelling on 21 and 22 May. Fighting with heavy weapons resumed at the beginning of the week in the hills of Mutaho, Rusayo and Muja, barely 10 kilometres north-west of Goma.

"Thousands of people, including people displaced from other parts of the province who took refuge in Goma following earlier clashes, live in those neighbourhoods close to the fighting," said Rachel Bernhard, head of the sub-delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Goma. "Residents and displaced people now find themselves again caught in the crossfire, at the risk of their lives."

Some 15 people, including five children, injured by shells that landed near the Mugunga III camp housing displaced people and in Goma's Ndosho district were treated at Ndosho Hospital by an ICRC surgical team, made up of some 10 people, who have been working in the hospital alongside local personnel since November. The ICRC has also provided bandages, fluids such as plasma and saline solution, antibiotics, and other medical supplies for Katindo Military Hospital, where members of the government armed forces wounded in the fighting are taken for treatment.

"We are visiting the areas in Goma that were hit to see how the people are doing and to give them any emergency aid they might need," said Ms Bernhard. "With our partner, the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are working diligently to gain a clearer idea of the needs of people living in the affected areas or near where the fighting has been taking place."

The ICRC calls attention to the fact that direct attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects are prohibited, as are indiscriminate attacks. The parties to the conflict must at all times comply with international humanitarian law and distinguish between the civilian population and those who are fighting.

Since November of last year, the ICRC has stepped up its activities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in terms of providing surgical and other medical care for people with violence-related injuries, and water, food and other basic necessities for displaced people.

For further information, please contact:
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Goma / Bukavu, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
Marie-Servane Desjonquères, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 60 or +41 79 536 92 58