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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC supplies drinking waterfor 90,000 people in Saké and Kitshanga

01-12-2008 News Release 08/222

Kinshasa/Geneva (ICRC) – After an interruption of over a month due to deteriorating security conditions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has resumed its programmes that will bring clean drinking water to more than 90,000 people in Saké and Kitshanga, north-west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

In Saké, where the resident population of more than 30,000 has been swollen by thousands of people displaced by the hostilities, the ICRC has begun to carry out repair work on the water network which had been partially damaged by recent military operations. The next step will be to build an additional supply and catchment system in order to increase the flow to tapstands and better meet the population's needs.

In the Kitshanga area the priority is to provide an adequate supply of drinking water for the camps for displaced persons in Mungote and Kahe, where over 32,000 people are sheltering. The ICRC and the local Red Cross are about to install a new 90,000-litre reservoir that will triple the existing capacity.

" Drinking water is supremely important for the survival of the population and for the prevention of illness, especially cholera, " said Florence Dapples, who is in charge of ICRC water and sanitation programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. " Demand for water is even greater in the very serious crisis conditions currently afflicting North Kivu. "

ICRC engineers have also resumed work on spring catchments and on conveyance systems that will significantly increase the supply of potable water for Kitshanga, which has a population of nearly 45,000.

The ICRC is very concerned about the extremely precarious situation of the North Kivu population. It reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international humanitarian law to preserve the lives and dignity of persons not, or no longer, directly taking part in hostilities. In addition, the parties to the conflict have an obligati on to spare objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as drinking water installations. They must also authorize and facilitate the passage of relief supplies.

  For further information, please contact:
  Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 03 66 812
  Sebastian Brack, ICRC Kinshasha, tel: +243 81 70 08 536
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24