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Democratic Republic of the Congo: concern over humanitarian situation in the Kivus

27-01-2009 Operational Update

Teams from the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to assist victims of the armed conflict in the Kivus. Despite a lull in the fighting since the end of 2008, the ICRC remains concerned about the welfare of people living in this volatile region.

 Uncertain humanitarian situation  


Joint military operations carried out by the Rwandan and Congolese armed forces in North Kivu threaten to jeopardize the safety of civilians in the area. Many people who have not yet had a chance to recover from the effects of recent clashes now face the prospect of further displacement.

The ICRC remains present in the Kivus, where it keeps a close watch on the humanitarian situation and regularly reminds the parties to the conflict of their obligation to spare civilians.




 Protection and assistance for persons deprived of their liberty  


ICRC delegates continue to visit persons deprived of their liberty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a view to improving their conditions of detention and treatment.

  • The ICRC provides food and firewood for the prison in Goma;

  • It recently delivered a consignment of essential medicines and medical supplies to the prison's dispensary.


 Restoring family links  


  • In early January, the tracing services of the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross were able to reunite 18 unaccompanied children with their families.

  • Since November 2008, the families of 30 children have been traced thanks to a campaign run by the ICRC in cooperation with five radio stations in North Kivu.

  • The ICRC is supporting COVEDEC, a centre that shelters 180 minors, including 80 unaccompanied children. Two dormitories, a kitchen, a dining hall, sanitary facilities and two water-catchment tanks have been completed.


Economic security

Teams from the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross are striving to help displaced families and host families boost their production capacity in advance of the growing season.

  • Seed, farming tools and food are soon to be distributed in South Lubero and Minova. Food has already been delivered to 1,805 displaced families in Minova.

Food distributions are being carried out with the assistance of the Congolese Red Cross and in coordination with the World Food Programme.

 Access to medical care  

  • The ICRC has distributed medicines and other medical supplies to 12 hospitals and 11 health-care centres in North and South Kivu, enabling them to provide care free of charge to war-wounded and other patients, including displaced persons and members of host families. 

  • The ICRC's surgical team has treated war-wounded and provided technical assistance and expertise for several hospitals in North Kivu (Nyamilima, Butembo and Beni).

  • On 22 January the ICRC transferred five weapon-bearers from Rutshuru to a suitable medical facility.


 Drinking water  

  • With the support of the Congolese Red Cross, the ICRC is pursuing its efforts to double the supply of water to Sake. This project is to benefit the town's 30,000 inhabitants and numerous displaced persons.

  • In the Kibati camps near Goma, the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross are providing 80,000 litres of water per day for 30,000 displaced persons.

  • In Vitshumbi, an emergency facility set up by the ICRC and run by the Congolese Red Cross produces 36,000 litres of drinking water per day, thus helping to ward off water-borne diseases among the area's 14,000 inhabitants and displaced persons.

  • ICRC engineers are building a water-supply network for the town of Kitshanga, which has a population of 30,000.

  • The ICRC has installed a new 45,000-litre water tank serving camps for displaced persons in Mungote and Kahe (Kitshange), thus doubling the storage capacity and covering camp-dwellers'needs.

  • In Bulambo, the ICRC is installing nine new water-treatment plants in order to expand the network set up in 2008.

  • In Kalehe/Minova, following a survey of the water-supply system serving four sites for displaced persons, ICRC teams replaced four bladders with a water tank. Further work is planned in 2009 on water mains and tapstands.

  • In Bunyakiri and Ciriba, which were hit by a cholera epidemic, the ICRC carried out a survey with a view to rehabilitating the water-supply system in the coming months.

 ICRC support for psychosocial services for victims of sexual violence  


  • The ICRC supports 34 shelters set up to assist victims of sexual violence throughout North and South Kivu.

Support for the Congolese Red Cross 


The ICRC is continuing to cooperate with the Congolese Red Cross, which plays a key role in assisting conflict victims.

  • Twenty volunteers from the North Kivu branch of the Congolese Red Cross have been trained as social workers, in particular to counsel victims of sexual violence.

Promoting international humanitarian law 


The ICRC continues to promote knowledge of its work and activities among weapon-bearers and to teach them the basic principles of international humanitarian law.

  • Nearly 250 weapon-bearers attended information sessions on international humanitarian law held in Kirumba and Kanyabayonga.

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