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Congo-Kinshasa – Update on ICRC operations in North Kivu, October 2007

26-10-2007 Operational Update

About two weeks ago fighting flared in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories, putting an end to the fragile truce that went into effect on 6 September last. The situation is increasingly worrying for civilians, who are suffering not only the direct effects of the hostilities but are also facing acute economic problems, which could further worsen, with long-term consequences for the entire province.

 

Situation from a humanitarian viewpoint 
 
  • The heavy fighting of recent weeks has resulted in a major influx of war-wound victims to medical facilities in Goma, Masisi, Machumbi, Kitchanga, Rutshuru and Nyamilima. And there have been reports of serious depredations committed by bearers of weapons against the civilian population: rape, pillaging of crops, theft of livestock, and the forcible recruitment of both adults and children.

  • Either as a precaution or in the wake of hostilities, large portions of the population of affected areas have been fleeing to places they feel are safer. However, those places – Goma, Masisi, Minova, Nyanzale, Kitchanga, Kalembe, and Rugari in the Rutshuru territory – are finding it increasingly difficult to absorb the numbers of displaced people. As regards Goma, the number of people fleeing into the Mugunga area is growing, as is the number of displaced people already living in the Mugunga sites 1 et 2 and in Bulengo and Lac Vert.

  • Humanitarian organizations estimate that some 64,000 families have been displaced in North Kivu this month.

  • The volatile security situation reduces the scope for humanitarian action. For example, many of the roads out of Goma are too unsafe for surveys to be conducted of people's needs. ICRC delegates have nevertheless been able to deliver medical supplies, visit detainees and assess the need for humanitarian aid in Nyanzale, Nyamilima, Mushaki and Kitchanga. Staff based in South Kivu have been able to enter North Kivu on the Nyabibwe-Minova road.

 
ICRC response 
 

 Raising awareness of the basic rules of international humanitarian law : Meetings have been held with the various parties to the conflict to remind them of the obligation to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. A radio ad is being broadcast regularly, calling on all parties to the conflict to respect the life and physical and mental integrity of civilians, of wounded combatants and of persons captured in connection with the conflict, and to spare facilities indispensable to the population's survival and to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations and access by those organizations to people affected by the hostilities.

 Medical aid : The ICRC aided 10 medical facilities in Goma, Kitchanga, Mushaki, Nyamilima, Pinga Nyanzale, Minova and Masisi. The facility in Masisi was supplied with the help of the Belgian branch of Médecins sans frontières. In addition to supplies, two ICRC surgeons are helping Congolese doctors with the most serious cases, and the ICRC is encouraging the facilities concerned to send serious cases to the Katindo and Heal Africa hospitals in Goma.

  •  Katindo Military Hospital in Goma  

  1. medicines and other medical supplies

  2. reinforcement of local staff by ICRC surgeons

  3. treatment by an ICRC physiotherapist

  4. help with the water supply for the operating theatre, maternity ward and laboratory

  5. hygiene measures, including the distribution of chlori ne

  •  CBK health-care centre in Kitchanga and Mushaki health-care centre  

  1. medicines and other medical supplies

  2. reinforcement of local staff by ICRC surgeons

  •  Two health-care centres in Nyanzale  

  1. basic medical kit and bandaging kit supplied to each facility

  •  Health-care centre in Pinga  

  1. basic medical kit for the centre, plus a basic medical kit for the Pinga " health zone " (Congolese administrative unit)

  •  Masisi, Nyamilima and Minova hospitals and Heal Africa hospital in Goma   

  1. kit for the treatment of war-wound victims

    

 Care for victims of sexual violence : The ICRC supports the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in counselling victims and in improving the speed with which they receive medical treatment at Mugunga site 1 and Lac Vert.

In Kalehe and Minova, where some of those displaced in North Kivu have sought refuge, the ICRC has supplied medicines for the care of victims of sexual violence.

 Emergency relief : On 30 September, the National Red Cross Society distributed, with ICRC support, essential items (blankets, mats, soap and buckets) to over 1,000 people who had fled to Mugunga.

 Welfare of people deprived of their liberty : ICRC delegates have continued visiting persons arrested by the various parties in connection with the conflict. The organization approached the authorities concerned with a view to gaining access to all such detainees throughout the province.

 The ICRC remains extremely concerned about the outrages being committed against the civilian population by bearers of weapons, in particular pillage, forced recruitment and rape. It is also very concerned about its lack of access to seriously affected areas, which makes it difficult to help people in need.  

 

 

 For further information, please contact:  

 Danielle Larrabée, ICRC Goma, tel. +243 81 036 68 12  

 Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Kinshasa, tel. +243 81 700 85 36