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Democratic Republic of the Congo: aid for 90,000 isolated people in Haut Uélé and Bas Uélé

14-02-2011 News Release 11/33

Kinshasa / Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun transporting over 800 tonnes of seed and various implements to Haut Uélé and Bas Uélé, in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is one of the most isolated areas in the country. Brought in with support from the National Red Cross Society, the seed and tools will be distributed in the districts of Ango, Banda, Doruma and Nyangara, benefiting some 90,000 people, both local residents and others who have fled there. 

"Over the past two years, most of the population has fled violence connected with the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army," explained Abdallah Togola, the ICRC delegate in charge of the operation. "Though some have by now been able to return to their homes, they have often lost everything, including food reserves from a number of harvests." Many others, he said, had taken in displaced people as an act of solidarity and were now sharing their meagre resources with them.

To help kick-start agricultural production, Red Cross staff will give each family 20 kg of groundnut seed and a further 20 kg of seed for fast-growing rice. Five hundred other families of fishermen will receive the gear they need to resume their livelihood.

"This region not only suffers from endemic violence," said James Reynolds, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in the Congo. "It's half the size of France and has practically no basic infrastructure. Roads are often unusable and there's no postal service, no telecommunications at all. So it's terribly difficult for humanitarian organizations to reach the people who need help."

To carry out such a large-scale operation in these circumstances, it has been necessary to get the help of the local population to repair roads and two airstrips.

The operation will continue until March, with dozens of flights a day into the area and hard work by a large number of National Red Cross Society volunteers.

The ICRC has been active in this region since 2009, offering services that include reuniting members of families dispersed by the fighting.

For further information, please contact:
Loukas Petridis, ICRC Kinshasa, tel. +243 081 950 38 74
Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 53 69 232