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DR Congo: conflict-related dangers still a daily reality for thousands of people

24-11-2011 Operational Update No 11/01

Alongside the unrest and tensions linked to the elections due to take place on 28 November 2011, armed conflicts continue to create a dangerous environment for thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

During the run-up to the elections, the ICRC has supported the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with financial and human resources to train emergency response and casualty-evacuation teams.

"Our priority is to ensure that Red Cross volunteers are in a position to respond swiftly and effectively in the event of unrest," explains Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in the DRC. "It is also vital to remind all those concerned that medical personnel must be treated with respect at all times so that they can do their jobs properly," he continues. Humanitarian activities helping thousands of civilians affected by armed conflict are carried out in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale and Équateur.

In the Uélé districts of Orientale Province, the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army means that people live in constant fear of further attacks. Thousands of people are still taking refuge in areas thought to be safer. "Lack of security and the fear of attacks are a constant threat hanging over the communities that have taken in those who have been displaced," says Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in the DRC.

Activities carried out by the ICRC between January and September 2011:

Places of detention

With a view to promoting humane treatment and conditions of detention that comply with Congolese law and international standards, the ICRC continued its visits to the main permanent and temporary places of detention.

The ICRC made 260 visits to 55 places of detention, visited some 37,500 people, and monitored 2,025 detainees on an individual basis. As part of the ICRC's food aid programme in six prisons (Kinshasa, Mbanza Ngungu, Matadi, Mbuji Mayi, Bunia and Kisangani), 870,000 daily rations in all were distributed to some 3,200 detainees.

The ICRC also provided essential medical supplies and equipment for 10 prison clinics (two in the Kivu provinces, one in Kasai-Oriental, two in Bas-Congo, three in Orientale, one in Kinshasa and one in Katanga) that conducted over 20,760 medical consultations in all. Some 200 detainees suffering from severe acute malnutrition also benefited from therapeutic feeding.

Restoring family links  

The ICRC reunited with their families some 200 children associated with armed forces or armed groups, and monitored a further 200 separated children with a view to helping them rejoin their families and communities. To date, the ICRC continues to monitor more than 2,150 children placed in transit centres or with foster families throughout the country.

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal to be done in this area and children continue to fall victim to forced or voluntary recruitment. With the help of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ICRC registered a further 360 separated children and 290 children previously linked to armed forces or armed groups.

Food aid and essential supplies  

As part of its programme aimed at boosting the economic security of victims of armed conflicts and other violence, the ICRC takes joint action with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to restore their livelihoods, thereby enabling families affected by those conflicts to meet their own basic needs. During the first half of 2011, the ICRC achieved the following:

In North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale, 75,600 households received seeds to grow their own produce, tools and other equipment. In South Kivu, 4,100 households also received fishing supplies to revive their livelihood activities.

Several thousand households in the provinces of Orientale, Équateur, North Kivu and South Kivu benefited under the cash-for-work or food-for-work projects, which enable people to rebuild their homes, or larger-scale road- and runway-reconstruction projects in the interest of the whole community. These projects also make it easier to transport humanitarian supplies into and around the region.

The ICRC distributed food rations to some 6,300 households in North Kivu and South Kivu. More than 4,000 households on the upper and middle plateaux of Minembwe and Ruzizi plain in South Kivu had their cattle vaccinated to protect them from disease and improve yields.  

The ICRC boosted farming production by assisting some 11,000 households in South Kivu and North Kivu and a total of 70,000 households altogether in Orientale, North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanga.

Supporting health-care services  

The ICRC supported 16 health centres in North and South Kivu that conducted 65,000 medical consultations and delivered 6,150 babies. It also distributed some 60,000 doses of vaccine and provided support for three hospitals in North Kivu and South Kivu. Over 12,560 surgical, medical and gynaecological/obstetric consultations were carried out, 2,100 operations performed, 6,500 internal medicine patients hospitalized and 130 war casualties treated.

In addition, the ICRC distributed medicines and medical supplies on a one-off basis to various health centres (Kimua, Bukumbirwa, Kanune and Rusamambo) and to Matanda hospital in Butembo. Fizi general hospital in South Kivu also received medicines and medical supplies. Another one-off donation was made to Mwenga referral hospital, the Kokolo camp military hospital in Kinshasa and Mbandaka general hospital in Équateur province.

The ICRC continues to support 35 counselling centres in North Kivu and South Kivu, where psychosocial workers help victims of physical violence connected to armed conflicts. These centres treated 740 rape victims, 90 victims of sexual violence and 540 other people, most of them suffering from conflict-related traumas.

Over 500 war casualties, both civilian and military, benefited from physical rehabilitation services. Some 290 artificial limbs (10 of them for mine victims), 40 orthotic devices, 395 crutches and 20 tricycles were manufactured and distributed.

In Orientale province, the ICRC set up a psychosocial support programme through community liaison officers. In addition to improved monitoring of children previously associated with armed groups, the aim of this programme is to offer support to communities living in fear of further attacks and people in the dark about the fate of the loved ones taken from them.

Supplying water and improving sanitation  

The ICRC succeeded in supplying water to 120,000 people in rural areas of North Kivu and South Kivu, in particular in Kisharu (Rutshuru), Maziba/Mushangi (Walungu), and Kirumba and Kayna. In addition, following the arrival of displaced populations in Buleusa, in North Kivu, and in order to prevent an outbreak of diarrhoea, the ICRC built latrines and showers and installed water catchment systems at two springs to provide water for approximately 8,000 people. In Orientale province, 20 wells equipped with rope pumps were installed in Dungu, taking the total to over 40 operational water supply points since the beginning of the year.

Also in Orientale, the work of digging wells and installing rope pumps was then stepped up, with 10 extra wells in Dungu and 20 in Niangara, taking the total to almost 70 operational water supply points since the beginning of the year.

Several projects were completed in the country's prisons: improving sanitation in Bukavu prison; building better ovens and a cooking area in Makala central prison in Kinshasa; building a kitchen in Bunia prison; improving the dormitories in Kisangini prison; and renovating the water and sanitation systems in Osio central prison. The ICRC also made sanitation improvements in Butembo, Matadi and Mbanza-Ngungu prisons.

Health-care facilities were built or renovated in North Kivu and South Kivu: a 16-bed facility in Bwatsinge; one in southern Lubero; and a new health centre in Musahshirwa, a town with almost 7,000 inhabitants in Kabare. The ICRC also built a maternity hospital in Iganda in Mwenga, South Kivu, and helped to renovate Opienge hospital in Orientale.

Cooperating with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  

The ICRC provided the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with financial and human resources to run four training workshops for emergency response and casualty-evacuation teams (in the two Kasai provinces, South Kivu, North Kivu, Bas-Congo and Kalémie in Katanga). It also funded three community-based first aid sessions in North Kivu.

The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo assisted a number of families in Kasomeno (Kasenga territory, Haut-Katanga district, Katanga province) whose roofs had been swept away by torrential rain.

To help them educate the population on how to prevent cholera, 160 volunteers from the National Society received training on hygiene and sanitation in Bukavu and Katana. In Iganda (South Kivu), 25 chlorination systems were installed in water supply points to reduce the risk of the 5,000 inhabitants catching cholera, and some 50 volunteers and community liaison officers carried out a hygiene-awareness campaign.

The ICRC is also providing financial support for the National Society’s regeneration plan.

Promoting international humanitarian law  

The ICRC worked with over 9,200 members of the armed forces and security forces in North Kivu, South Kivu, Bas-Congo, Orientale, Katanga and Kinshasa to familiarize them with  international humanitarian law and the ICRC’s neutral and impartial work.

The ICRC also carried out awareness-raising campaigns among some 160 other weapon-bearers in North Kivu and South Kivu, 560 members of the political and administrative authorities in North Kivu, Katanga, Orientale and Kinshasa, 1,580 members of the security forces in Katanga, North Kivu, South Kivu and Kinshasa, 2,900 representatives of civil society in Orientale, North Kivu and Kinshasa, and 150 Red Cross volunteers in Orientale. The ICRC also provided funding for three students to enter the moot court competition in international humanitarian law organized in Abidjan in September 2011.

For further information, please contact:
Yves Heller, ICRC Kinshasa, +243 81 700 85 36
Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02


Photos

DRC, Orientale province, Dungu. Children use one of the 40 rope pumps installed by the ICRC 

DRC, Orientale province, Dungu. Children use one of the 40 rope pumps installed by the ICRC
© ICRC / M. Gertilin / CD-E-01316

DRC, Kinshasa, Bandalungwa. This 14-year-old girl is reunited with her mother after being separated from her in South Kivu five years ago. 

DRC, Kinshasa, Bandalungwa. This 14-year-old girl is reunited with her mother after being separated from her in South Kivu five years ago.
© ICRC / E. Tshibuabua / CD-E-01317

DRC, Orientale province, Bas-Uélé district. A woman receives seeds and tools as part of the aid distributed by the ICRC and Congolese Red Cross. 

DRC, Orientale province, Bas-Uélé district. A woman receives seeds and tools as part of the aid distributed by the ICRC and Congolese Red Cross.
© ICRC / A. Togola

DRC, Nord-Kivu, Kibirizi. A woman collects drinking water from a supply point built by the ICRC. 

DRC, Nord-Kivu, Kibirizi. A woman collects drinking water from a supply point built by the ICRC.
© ICRC / P. Yazdi

DRC, South Kivu, Minembwe. International humanitarian law awareness-raising session for soldiers from the DRC armed forces based in Fizi 

DRC, South Kivu, Minembwe. International humanitarian law awareness-raising session for soldiers from the DRC armed forces based in Fizi
© ICRC / P. Yazdi

DRC, Orientale province, Bas-Uélé district. The ICRC and Congolese Red Cross unload seeds and tools to distribute to thousands of people. 

DRC, Orientale province, Bas-Uélé district. The ICRC and Congolese Red Cross unload seeds and tools to distribute to thousands of people.
© ICRC / A. Togola