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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC aids victims of fighting in North Kivu

30-08-2007 News Release 07/15

The ICRC is this week launching an operation in the town of Kalembe, in North Kivu 50 km north-west of Goma, to help people affected by the upsurge in hostilities in the area.

Mounting clashes between government soldiers and armed groups have been accompanied by outrages committed against the civilian population and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation there. Many families have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. The ICRC will be distributing emergency supplies for 5,000 displaced people while providing drinking water for 9,300 displaced and for local residents this week.

The Head of the ICRC's sub-delegation in Goma, Yann Bonzon, explains: " after assisting the people returning to Kalembe in June, the ICRC now decided to conduct a second assistance operation here, this time for families recently displaced due to the deteriorating security situation. Kalembe's residents cannot cope anymore with the influx of new displaced arriving from other communities. "

" Men with guns were coming through the forest, " said one person who sought refuge in Kalembe. " We had to drop everything and leave right away. It's safer here, but we've lost all we had. We're very relieved to be receiving this assistance, not least because the very presence of the Red Cross helps protect us. "

Each family will receive a bucket, soap, blankets, mats, clothing, hoes and cooking utensils. But that is not enough. Kalembe's water supply, which normally meets the population's needs, is no longer sufficient given the number of people now in the town, and water-borne disease is a growing threat. The ICRC will therefore be installing a temporary water supply system. This w eek's operation would not be possible without the help of the local branch of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The ICRC maintains an ongoing dialogue with all parties to the conflict, reminding them of their obligations under international humanitarian law. The organization's delegates are working hard to make combatants aware of their duties under that law, in particular the imperative of taking all necessary precautions to spare civilians and their property.

For further information, please contact:
  Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Kinshasa, tel +243 81 700 85 36
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17