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Democratic Republic of the Congo: emergency aid for 675 victims of violencein North Kivu

11-05-2009 News Release 09/95

Kinshasa (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are today beginning to distribute emergency aid to 675 inhabitants of Butalongola, a village in North Kivu situated less than seven kilometres to the north of the southern Lubero city of Kanyabayonga.

Those receiving the aid lost all their possessions in the night of 8 to 9 May after armed men raided the area and burned down over 135 houses.

" We quickly organized help for the victims: we brought them tarpaulins, kitchen pots, blankets, sleeping mats and enough food for the next two weeks, " said Rudolf Krebs, who is in charge of the ICRC's activities in the area. " Still, we are concerned about what will happen to them. It has become more and more unsafe in southern Lubero since military operations began to intensify a fortnight ago. "

Currently, some Butalongola inhabitants are spending nights in the bush for fear of violence. For several weeks they have not had access to their fields. Unless they can harvest their crops, these people, who live off the land, will be unable to support themselves.

The ICRC is very worried by the increasing number of crimes committed against civilians by members of various armed groups and armed forces in the context of the ongoing military operations. The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect and respect the lives and physical and mental well-being of those not directly participating in the hostilities, and to direct their activities solely against military objectives.

 For more information, please contact:  

 Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 03 66 812  

 Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17