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Republic of the Congo: farm equipment for 100,000 Likouala residents

09-05-2011 News Release 11/108

Geneva/Brazzaville (ICRC) – Residents of the department of Likouala, in the north of the Republic of the Congo, remain in a precarious situation following the massive influx in 2009 of refugees from Equateur province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is in the process of distributing farm and fishing equipment to ensure that food reserves will not be exhausted. The aid, which will benefit almost 100,000 people, will end in June.

"Residents in the area have made a considerable effort to take in their brothers from across the Ubangi river," said Bernard Metraux, the head of the ICRC mission in the Republic of the Congo. "With this distribution, the ICRC aims to strengthen the economic capacity of the resident population in Likouala, and thereby to avoid a depletion of basic items such as cassava and fish. The refugee population is receiving aid from other humanitarian organizations."

Together with Congolese Red Cross volunteers, the ICRC is providing aid for people in the districts of Bétou, Enyellé, Liranga, Impfondo and Dongou. In addition to farming and fishing supplies, cuttings of varieties of cassava that are resistant to the harmful mosaic virus disease are also being distributed. Over 40,000 people in the districts of Enyellé and Bétou have received these items since 18 April. As the area is accessible only with great difficulty, the distribution is being carried out by means of barges, pirogues and trucks.

In October 2009, armed violence in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo caused people to flee towards Likouala, on the other side of the border. According to government estimates, nearly 115,000 people succeeded in crossing the Ubangi river into the Republic of the Congo.

In order to improve the ability of the Congolese Red Cross to respond to emergencies, the ICRC and the French Red Cross will jointly finance the construction of a new Congolese Red Cross department headquarters in Likouala. The ICRC is also helping refugees in the department to re-establish contact with other members of their families.

For further information, please contact:
Bernard Metraux, ICRC Brazzaville, tel: +242 679 10 10
Vincent Pouget, ICRC Yaoundé, tel: +237 9 941 6579
Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17