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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Helping isolated communities in Ikela

12-12-2003 News Release 03/157

Between 6 and 12 December, the ICRC distributed such essential items as clothing, soap, hoes, shovels, machetes, buckets, blankets and kitchen utensils to people in Ikela, a region of Équateur province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Unloading, view of the banks of the Lomami river from the barge. Opala town
©ICRC, ref.CD-E-00137 

" Bless you! Thank you! " exclaims Marie Spéciose. She has walked 180 km in four days to reach Opala (one of two ICRC distribution points) from her home village of Bomandja. " Everyone had forgotten us, but you were there. We don't regret the long walk, because this is really a wonderful present. " She sets off home with a package on her back and a big smile on her face.
This distribution of supplies took place in the former " disengagement zone " , which has been difficult to enter for many years because of the war. The beneficiaries were those most in need, which meant 7,400 families, or almost 37,000 people. The ICRC had prepared everything well in advance. For logistical reasons, goods had to be transported by air, river and road (which meant bicycle and motorbike!) from Kinshasa and Bukavu.
The ICRC carried out the operation in cooperation with the local authorities, to make sure that supplies were distributed fairly. For Isidore Likasa, one of the beneficiaries living near Opala, this was the start of a new life: " We felt completely abandoned, but thanks to you we've recovered our dignity. Now we can collect water, make traps for hunting and work in our fields. "

 For further information, please contact:  

 Elizabeth Twinch, ICRC Goma, tel.: ++250 0830 0461  

 Alec Guichard, ICRC Bukavu, tel.: ++250 0830 0451  

 Jean-Jacques Gacond, ICRC Kinshasa, tel.: ++243 99 000 74