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Republic of the Congo: ICRC starts humanitarian flights to northern Pool

06-04-2000 News Release 00/12

On 3 April, a civilian aircraft landed on the Kindamba airstrip in the remote northern Pool area of the Republic of the Congo for the first time in 12 years. This marked the beginning of an ICRC airlift to bring humanitarian aid to victims of the latest fighting in the country, which ended in December 1999. The ICRC plane, a DC-3(TP), is now making several flights a day. Since last year large parts of the northern Pool have been inaccessible by road. Tens of thousands of civilians spent months hiding from the fighting in the forest.

The ICRC is setting up a feeding centre in Kindamba for severely malnourished people, while the moderately malnourished will receive special meals served in a public kitchen. In cooperation with volunteers of the Congolese Red Cross and the regional health authorities, it is also providing the civilian population with medical care. At the same time, the ICRC has started repairs on the Kindamba hospital, including the rehabilitation of wells and the construction of latrines.

In parallel with the assistance programme, information sessions on international humanitarian law are being held for those bearing weapons.

The airlift is the result of an initial ICRC visit to Kindamba on 8 March and is scheduled to last for a month. Before the operation could begin, the airstrip had to be made practicable by the ICRC, which is currently the only humanitarian agency working in the area.