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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC emergency work continues following truce in Kisangani

06-07-2000 News Release 00/25

Nearly one month after a truce put an end to the most recent fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan forces in Kisangani, the ICRC is continuing to provide urgently needed assistance for some 1,700 people, mostly civilians, who were wounded in the clashes. The organization has distributed medicine and food to the 50 hospitals and health centres where these people are being treated and an ICRC surgeon is operating in the general hospital.

Meanwhile, the ICRC and the local Red Cross have virtually completed one of the most difficult and urgent tasks of all – the collection and burial of hundreds of decomposing bodies. The ICRC believes that at least 619 civilians and 141soldiers died in the week-long fighting. Up to 250 Red Cross volunteers and numerous ICRC staff were involved in removing the remains, which presented a major threat to public health.

Together with its local partner, the ICRC has also been active in protecting civilians, in particular children, against the risk posed by the thousands of unexploded shells, grenades and other ordnance littering the city. Red Cross teams have located about 2,500 danger sites, which have been secured and notified to the local military forces, and have disinfected and cleaned up 75 public buildings, including 11 schools.

To help those whose houses were destroyed or damaged in the fighting, the ICRC has distributed plastic sheeting, blankets and soap to more than 1,100 families in Kisangani. It has also taken special measures to speed up the exchange of Red Cross messages between the residents of Kisangani and their relatives liv ing in other parts of the country.

The ICRC reopened its office in Kisangani in February 1999.