DRC Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin Mar - Apr 2000

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 17 Apr 2000


Endorsed in the early February 2000, the Security Council Resolution 1291 set out the framework through which the UN contribution to the Lusaka Accords could be bolstered with the following underlying tenets: reaffirmation of DRC's territorial integrity and sovereignty; and recognition that the Lusaka Accords are the most viable tool to take DRC out of war into a sustainable, durable peace and towards the re-establishment of structures of governance. Agreement, support and security guarantees for the implementation of the Security Council resolution were received from all parties to the conflict during the visit of Mr. Bernard Miyet, the UN under-secretary General for Peace Keeping, to the region in March. On 12-14 March, during his official visit clearly aimed at ending the "world's embargo" on the DRC, Mr. Louis Michel, Belgian Foreign Minister brought another support to the Lusaka process and made unambiguous statements in favour of the DRC's territorial integrity.
Despite all the above initiatives and assurances, the number and magnitude of cease-fire violations has increased all along the frontline and within the eastern provinces. The intensity of military operations in the course of March was, according to military analysts, the highest since the signing of the Lusaka agreement and, perhaps since the beginning of the war in 1998. While the Rwanda and Uganda backed rebel forces launched a major offensive in the Kasais and southern Equateur, the DRC army and its allies attempted to recapture areas lost in Katanga, South Kivu and central Equateur. The March military campaign appears to be especially gainful for rebel (both MLC and RCD) forces, which captured significant areas in Western Kasai and Equateur thus virtually isolating Mbuji-Mayi , Kananga, and Mbandaka, the Government's remaining economic backbone.

The escalation of hostilities was the main subject for discussion at the JMC and political meetings held in Kampala from 4th to 7th April. Issued from both the military commission meeting and the following political meeting was a plan for active disengagement as a 'jump-start' to the Lusaka Process. The date set for active-disengagement of all troops involved was April 14th. The visit of Presidents Nujoma, Mugabe and Dos Santos to Kinshasa between the 8th and the 9th April was a clear affirmation of their backing to this initiative. On 14 April, rebel forces stated the cease-fire had already been violated. The same day, the blasting of a stock of ammunitions stored at the Kinshasa international airport caused the death of over 100 and wounded 217 persons.

The National Consultation, an initiative of the religious community, closely monitored by the authorities, took place in Kinshasa. Its objective was to bring together participants from all over DRC to identify and discuss the main blockages to peace, unity and reconciliation within the country. Civil society activists from the east were present, as were members of the Diaspora. Despite tensions over participation and thus the reports back to the plenary session, the DRC government has been openly criticised, as have the rebellion and the international community. A number of recommendations such as enlarging the political space to include other political entities and a cessation to the propping up of unpopular platforms or structures were dismissed by President Kabila in a speech to the nation on March 28th. Requests that the Lusaka Accords be reviewed and human rights (and related international legislation that the DRC government is bound by) be respected, received assurances of support and compliance from the Government.

The facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue, Sir Ketumile Masire left Kinshasa on the 24th March after a four-day attempt to obtain clearance to fly directly to rebel held areas. The DRC Foreign Minister publicly rejected Sir Masire's clearance request, thus prompting his decision to leave.

Against this bleak background, exchanges of the UN Assistant Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Mr. Ross Mountain with Kinshasa authorities on hurdles to access and resource mobilisation for emergency relief, can be considered as a success. The establishing of a joint Government/UN/NGO steering group to better address humanitarian priorities, and the supported cross frontline humanitarian flight on 30 March, were seen as a breakthrough in the worst context ever since August 1998.

At the end of March, the Government proceeded with the investiture of a preparatory committee to the Constituent and Legislative Assembly. Amid protests of opposition leaders, the DRC Government intends to complete an electoral process leading to the establishment of a Legislative Assembly by mid-May 2000. Some opposition leaders (Ethienne Tshisekedi, Chairman of UDPS, and Joseph Oleghankoy, President of FONUS) went as far as calling the population of Kinshasa for civil disobedience acts (i.e. ghost towns) on 8 April 2000, an appeal that remained largely ignored by the population.

Rumours of rebel (RCD Goma) leader Emile Illunga's, detention under house arrest, the non-return of heads of department Endundo and Thambwe spell dissension within RCD ranks. A possible cause of friction is being vaunted by some as differences over how to proceed with the peace process, but explained by the RCD as internal problems with accountability.

ECONOMY

It would appear that the galloping inflation registered in government held areas of DRC has slowed somewhat during March 2000. The Central Bank rate for Franc Congolais (FC) is still at 9 to the US dollar, whereas the parallel rate hovers around 40. In rebel-held territory the parallel rate is approximately 22 FC to the USD. The monthly inflation was at only 10% for the month of February, compared with 45% in December 1999. Studies looking at purchasing power within different segments of the population demonstrate that those comfortably off saw a decrease in their purchasing power of 11.6% whereas the poorest families suffered a 15.9% decrease in their ability to make ends meet.

The visit of the UNDP Associate Administrator (13-15 March) resulted in the UN system being granted an exchange rate of 22.5 FC to 1 USD. Whilst this compromise was found a useful official recognition of the problem, it still meant that all programmes and running costs are costing the UN system twice as much as has been budgeted. For international organisations and most private businesses the monetary regulations have not changed and they still face significant difficulties in fulfilling their obligations, although most of private operators have modified their transaction practices accordingly.

Fluctuation of Foreign exchange rates in eastern and western DRC. Ratio of Congolese Franc FC over $US 1

The government is still operating with no budget approved for this year. Whilst in Lubumbashi a cabinet meeting examined the draft prepared by the ministry of finance, no information has been made public. In the meantime the government continues large monetary emissions to cover the financial deficits. Public administration and a large proportion of the police force have not yet received their February salaries; those that have been paid appear to have received payment at the previous official rate of 4.5 FC to 1 USD. Tax and customs officials went on strike on the 25th claiming a salary increase.

It is to be feared that increasing insecurity will lead to disruption of food supply in eastern and central provinces (the Kivus, Orientale, Katanga, the Kasais). Diminished cultivation and access to markets (e.g. the market at Kiringye in South Kivu has been seriously disturbed for the last four weeks by bandits and RCD reprisals) are expected to lead to a scarcity of essential food items. Populations of major urban areas appear to be particularly unprotected vis-à-vis food shortages.

Population Movement. Overview by Province

As cease-fire violations pursue along the entirety of the front line civilians continue to flee the fighting and bombing. The fighting in the Kasaïs has precipitated unquantifiable levels of displacement. RCD/G and their allies are threatening the towns of Kabinda and Kananga and are seemingly in position to cut the supply lines from Kinshasa to these towns (by blocking the river access) and from Kananga to Mbuji-Mayi (by sealing off road access).

The fact that uncontrolled armed groups in the Kivus are much better armed and co-ordinated than previously results in focussed fighting of longer duration. On a number of occasions during the reporting period the uncontrolled-armed groups (UAGs) have gained the upper hand over RCD forces. A distinct change in the modus operandi of these groups has been observed: it would appear they no longer fight, loot and withdraw. In many instances they fight for control of villages or territories and remain there as an occupying force. This was notably reported by recent IDPs from Masisi in North Kivu.

Due to the dramatic rise of both the number of displaced and the distance and duration of their displacement over the last two months in the east, a decision has been taken to change the approach towards assistance that is offered. Previously most of the assistance that planned for displaced people was oriented towards their immediate return home. It can no longer be assumed that assisting IDPs to return home is the best option at the current time. Therefore, aid will now be offered to displaced communities where they are to be found. In addition to traditional reasons for displacement enlarged upon below there is another factor to be considered when looking at possible future displacements, in and around North Kivu, increased volcanic activity has been reported and monitored for one of the volcanoes close to Goma over the previous months.


IDPs – 240,000
Refugees:
Sudanese: 72,000
Ugandan: 3,200

ORIENTALE - Although the ongoing fighting between Hema and Lendu tribes in Ituri has, for the most part, decreased it is not yet known whether this has resulted in a decrease in the number of IDPs. Last time when the fighting was thought to be virtually over many came out of the forests to begin the trek home only to find themselves once again caught in the middle of a fierce battle. There is hope that the situation might be reaching status quo as a result of replacement of Ugandan backed authorities whose partiality has been fuelling inter-community tensions. w A recent joint agency mission pointed up areas of great humanitarian need and ongoing difficulties in reaching populations. Frank and transparent discussions and explanations with affected local communities in the presence of both parties to the conflict and local administrative authorities might now have some way to de-blocking the situation. It is hoped that this and the setting up of an OCHA co-ordination platform (at the request of humanitarian actors present on the ground) will lead to a more transparent and neutral operating environment; thus allowing the maximum benefit possible to those desperately in need. w The current figure used for displaced in Ituri is a maximum of 180,000, with 85,000 possibly being accessible. w Reports have been received of SPLA deserters crossing into border areas and harassing Sudanese refugees.


IDPs – 210,000
(represents only assessed IDPs, the real figure is believed to be considerably higher)
Refugees:
Rwandan: 35-50,000
Burundian:19,000

SOUTH KIVU - The most important pattern of displacement in South Kivu during the reporting period has been the change in strategies of attacks on populations and thus the change in displacement practices. Those dwelling in forests habitually displaced from settlements to camps further into the forest in order to be out of the way of whatever insecurity arising. This would be sufficient to keep them protected until their villages were safe and they could return. This method of self-preservation is no longer adequate. It would appear that there are previously unknown UAGs operating who are clearing entire areas with the express purpose that people do not return to their villages. As a result, waves of people who had been living rough in forests are now being swept before UAGs, constantly on the move. w The UAGs are considered to be far better equipped and armed than ever before. When locations such as Katchungu or Shabunda fall, they do so within hours after airdrops have been signalled in the area. It is noticeable that virtually all peace and reconciliation efforts between parts of the population at odds with one another have come to a halt. w The slow trickle of Congolese crossing the lake and seeking asylum in Tanzania has held steady. It is considered unlikely that this will increase, even if insecurity gets much worse. w In addition to the populations displacing themselves out of the forest as a result of increased insurgency and counter-insurgency there are also increased numbers fleeing the areas around Kabalo on the front line where the last three weeks saw an upsurge in fighting.



IDPs – 180,000
(represents only assessed IDPs, the real figure is believed to be considerably higher)

NORTH KIVU - The reasonably correct picture the humanitarian community had of displaced populations in North Kivu is no longer relevant. Due to a fluid insecurity problem, the populations concerned are not able to stay in one place. Although the absolute number of displaced has probably increased no complete picture could be drawn at this stage. WFP is in the process of leading identification missions to areas that are still accessible in order to obtain reliable statistics prior to food distributions. w It is still unknown whether Rwandan military operations in the territory of Rutshuru have resulted in large numbers of displaced. OCHA is currently looking into the dynamics of the population movements as a result of increased military activity. ECHO/USAID/AAA have visited Kanyabayonga to verify reports received of up to 90,000 displaced registered already. Until verification of the numbers in Kanyabayonga and Butembo are completed the number of displaced will remain as that of February: 180,000. Of these 180,000 WFP are currently able to access 80,000 and will begin to provide assistance through international and local partners. w The voluntary nature of the repatriation of Rwandan refugees being carried out by UNHCR's operational partner is coming under ever-closer scrutiny following beneficiary interviews showing that the nature of the repatriation efforts might well be changing. This will force UNHCR to approach the training and encadrement of its partner in a different manner and radically step-up its monitoring operations.


IDPs – 80,000

MANIEMA - As signalled in last month's report the displaced caseload in and around Kindu town rests at approx. 80,000. At least one third of the IDPs are in poor nutritional and medical state, lacking the financial means to survive in dignity (many female or child-headed households). Displaced figures nearer the frontline are difficult to assess but as the zone of Kabalo (Katanga) is reportedly nearly empty as a result of clashes it is not inconceivable that large numbers of people have fled north into southern Maniema.


IDPs – 195,000
Refugees:
Angolan: 41,000

KATANGA - WFP's recent assessment mission to Katanga has been given a figure of 151,224 internally displaced by the administrative authorities. In order to verify these figures WFP has put a team on the ground that will use all means at their disposal to reach the IDPs. In some cases this will mean at least one week's journey by train and long distances on foot. They will verify whether the districts of Haut Lomani, Tanganyika and Pweto have 58,198, 49,400 and 17,626 IDPs respectively. If these people are accessible then WFP has enough in its pipeline to respond to their needs but will face enormous logistical difficulties. This exercise will help in sampling in an accurate way the actual cost of humanitarian feeding projects in the DRC's unique context. A realistic estimate of the number of accessible IDPs in this part of Katanga would be upwards of 30,000 (a percentage also probably representative for many other of DRC's displaced populations). Of the 26,000 IDPs in Lubumbashi 200 families have voluntarily settled on allocated plots of land which they have begun to cultivate (UNDP/FAO operation). There are a further 300 families identified within the same project and they will move to the site as soon as the logistical means necessary are found.


IDPs – 141,000

EASTERN KASAI - The latest statistics, according to local administration registration exercises, put the number of displaced at 141,700 for what is accessible to them from Mbuji-Mayi. Although there are 7,812 displaced registered in the town itself most of them are living with host families; there are no sites. The small amount of assistance it has been possible to deliver to Eastern Kasai has been centred on the war-affected population in Kabinda.


IDPs – 250,000
Congolese Refugees:
in ROC: 18,000
CAR: 6,000

Equateur

One of the provinces worst hit by renewed fighting and bombing, Equateur's case is aggravated by the presence and differing strategies of all but one (RCD-ML) parties to the DRC conflict. Ikela, taken by Zimbabwean forces in January, is yet again surrounded by Rwandan forces; Mbandaka, Equateur's main town and a strategic key to Kinshasa was perceived in the early April within reach of Uganda-backed MLC forces; Basankusu (70 km north-east of Mbandaka) controlled by MLC since January 2000, suffered continued air-bombings. Against this bleak background OCHA's joint mission with the Minister of Health, WHO, UNICEF, WFP representatives as well as those of MSF, MEMISA and ECHO, in Mbandaka on 12 April was considered a breakthrough both in terms of access and actual response in areas close to the frontline. In addition 10 tons of food and medical supplies were shipped through this first EHI operation of the United Nations in government held areas.

REFUGEE MOVEMENTS

Refugees
Number
Congolese
9,502
Angolans
151,751
Sudanese
72,033
Ugandans
3,200
Rwandans
36,485
Burundians
19,627
Total
292,598

Of significance during the reporting period is the closure of Luozi camp, previously housing refugees from Congo Brazzaville who have all been aided in their return to their country. Of concern to UNHCR (in this instant particularly but it is an oft repeated pattern) is the lack of any local, credible NGO to whom operations can be ceded. In the case of Luozi the withdrawal of UNHCR from the area will jeopardise the situation of many people from DRC who have great need of the health facilities provided through UNHCR, local health facilities being non-existent or inaccessible. Ideally UNHCR would hand over to a local NGO or structure in order to ensure that the local population does not suffer as a result of their withdrawal.

UNHCR have registered and provide assistance of 14,000 refugees along the RoC riverfront from Njundu northwards towards the RoC border with CAR. The prefectural authorities signal the probable presence of 25,000 refugees along this stretch of Congo river. These refugees are not in sites and outnumber the local population by between 10 or 15 to 1. The registered refugees state that as soon as the security situation permits they will return home. The prefectural authorities are at ease with the presence of the refugees themselves but are concerned about the security implications that their presence implies. Logistical and security constraints hamper UNHCR's access to the balance of this refugee caseload, efforts to reach them continue.

POPULATION MOVEMENT, SUMMARY

The dynamics of growth of the internal displacement were sustained through the reporting period. North and South Kivus remained the most affected and a substantial rise in IDP numbers was observed. The most recent waves of displacement were not possible to assess and quantify, as the extent (location, dispersion, context) of displacement exceeds by far the capacities of humanitarian community to operate in combat zones. Although observations in the field suggest that there was a dramatic rise in areas affected by conflict (Kivu), only the data on accessible and assessed communities were taken into consideration for national IDP statistics update. Humanitarian teams are currently conducting a series of assessments in the Kivus that would permit a more accurate numeric evaluation in the course of May 2000. Also, the displacement statistics for Eastern Kasai are entirely provided by provincial authorities, including the Department for Migration (DGM) and remain to be verified by independent humanitarian sources. The total number of IDPs in the DRC is estimated at 1,300,000. This represents an increase of some 90,000 newly displaced persons in comparison with February 2000.

Although there were no additional influxes of refugees from neighbouring countries into the DRC, the total number increased by 20,000. This is a result of evaluations conducted by UNHCR during which several sites of remnants of Rwandan Hutu refugees were identified throughout the Kivus.

The cross border movement of Congolese to the ROC (Brazzaville) fleeing combat zones in Equateur slowed down but still remains unstable.

Humanitarian Principles and Human Rights

Access and security of Humanitarian Operations

Access to vulnerable populations has again decreased throughout the reporting period. In the east of the country this is due to increasing levels of insecurity. Field visits were possible to certain locations but by no means sufficient. Through most of last the year the humanitarian community did not have the resources to address the needs of populations but had a fairly good access. The current position is practically the reverse: the resources needed are more or less available but access is getting progressively more limited. In the west, i.e. government held areas access is often blocked due to security concerns on behalf of the government. The consequences of this are addressed in a proposal recently submitted to the DRC Government by the UN Assistant Emergency Relief Co-ordinator during his mission to the DRC (27 March -2 April 2000). The proposal to improve the accessibility of war-affected populations was shared with the DRC Government ministers and an agreement was reached to set up a steering committee on humanitarian access to expedite clearance-issuing procedures and minimize bureaucratic hurdles.


No-go zones.
Areas of intensive military activity and
insurgency impeding humanitarian interventions or making them sporadic.
Areas in red – no-go zones in January-February 2000;
Areas in yellow -additional no-go zones in March 2000

There have been, worryingly, continued cases of harassment of aid workers and their property in the east. This has happened to a variety of agencies in a number of different places. In some instances stealing of aid goods has also taken place. Official complaints to civilian and military authorities are always made when the incidents involve RCD military.

Unfortunately in South Kivu there is a tacit understanding that many of the military, especially those operating on the Ruzizi Plain, are 'uncontrolled and uncontrollable'. When security incidents concern the elements of Uncontrolled Armed Groups, no recourses exist in the absence of any contacts with their leadership. Steps to address this vacuum are under consideration.

Protection of Minorities:

In January the Ministry of Human Rights had expelled 357 vulnerable people in need of protection mainly Rwandan and Burundian citizens but also Congolese of Tutsi origin from a Government allocated protection site. The reason given for the expulsion was that they did not fulfil criteria for protection unlike the other 2000 left in the site. Many of those expelled moved into the old UN building and reapplied for protection. HRFOC/ICRC and the Office of the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator (OCHA) were able to negotiate a return to the site for those who would accept voluntary repatriation and those Congolese nationals whose foreign extraction and/or appearance makes them vulnerable. The last 62 vulnerable people were moved from the UN building to the protected site on the 25th March. On 3 March the HCHR Representative in the DRC received a positive reply on this issue from President Kabila.

Overall, the contact group on protection of persons at risk (Embassies, ICRC, Papal Nuncios, HCHR and Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator) has managed the evacuation/repatriation of over 2,300 Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian nationals as well as Congolese citizens of Tutsi origin since 1998. As of beginning of March there are still 637 persons at risk in Kinshasa of whom 150 are believed to be in the hiding. Below is the breakdown of all evacuation and repatriation exercises carried out by the Contact Group since September 1998.

Persons evacuated (embassies, religious missions, etc) between September 98 and June 99
350
Persons repatriated by ICRC to Rwanda and Burundi on 26.27 June 1999
489
Persons evacuated to a third country (Benin) for resettlement in the US , August 99
736
Persons evacuated to a third country (Cameroon) for resettlement in the US, September 99
610
Persons evacuated to a third country (Cameroon) for resettlement in the US, February 2000
152
Total Evacuated/Repatriated
2,337
Mr. Ngoma had left RCD/Goma last year
after accusing the rebel movement of being a conglomerate
of predators lacking political vision and manipulated by foreigners.

Human Rights

Mr. Ngoma had left RCD/Goma last year after accusing the rebel movement of being a conglomerate of predators lacking political vision and manipulated by foreigners.

President Kabila's general amnesty decree signed at the end of February 2000, concerning all Congolese, resident or non-resident, undergoing or having undergone any judiciary process (both civil and military) has thus far resulted in the liberation of 245 prisoners, including over 50 political detainees. Having accepted the amnesty offer of President Kabila, Mr. Z'Ahidi Ngoma, former vice-president of RCD/Goma returned to Kinshasa on 2 April 2000. However, other political activists are still under arrest on non-political charges (notably Mr. Kamitatu, the father of MLC Secretary General).

Access to Kinshasa's central prison has been granted to the UN HR Field Office in Congo. To date they have made two visits to the prison that included confidential access to detainees and frank exchanges with the prison authorities. In general the conclusions drawn are that all prisoners could benefit from an improvement in their living conditions. It was noted that those condemned to death are in a pitiable state - no access to medical care, overcrowding, no fresh air, no beds and in a very poor state of health.

The respect for human rights took a downturn in the east during the reporting period. In the towns of Goma and Bukavu this had much to do with an increased level of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience in the form of a week-long strike in Bukavu and a day of complete 'ville morte' in Goma, where shots fired and a scared but angry population stoned Rwandan soldiers, and Uvira (which ended in a, repulsed, attack by UAGs), plus various other attempts in Butembo, Bunia and Kindu, are the inevitable results of the exasperation of a population that feels itself to have suffered at the hands of those fighting a war which doesn't concern them, and in which they have no stage. Increasing insecurity combined with the placing of Rwandan 'experts' within every remunerative administrative structure appears to have been the final straw for civil society and the population. The strikes and 'villes mortes' were ineptly handled by the RCD and echoes of this are still being felt.

Numerous (more than 100) arbitrary detentions were made in both Goma and Bukavu; South Kivu residents in Goma being particularly targeted. Many were beaten or inhumanely treated whilst in prison, some needing hospital treatment on their release. Whilst most are at liberty now a general sentiment of fear and persecution still exists. The liberation, after some sort of due process, of an RCD member has led to the arrest of a high-ranking member of the security services.

The discontent manifested by the strikes and their aftermath has been considerably heightened by RCD Goma declaring Archbishop Kataliko persona non grata and refusing to let him return to his diocese of Bukavu following an ecclesiastical trip he had made to Kinshasa. RCD, declaring that Mgr. Kataliko had held seditious discussions with President Kabila whilst in Kinshasa and fearing he would intoxicate the population, sent him straight to his hometown of Butembo upon arrival in Goma. As a result the Catholic Church and all related social services in Bukavu have been on strike for four weeks, the Protestant and Muslim communities have done the same in sympathy. This level of solidarity was not necessarily expected by the RCD. A commission set afoot to resolve the problem has not managed to implement the decision already taken to allow Archbishop back in Bukavu.

UN Assistant Emergency Relief Co-ordinator was given
verbal assurances that some 80 Kivu participants to the National
Consultation will not be persecuted upon their return to eastern DRC,
during his meeting with RCD leadership on 31 March 2000 in Goma.

UN Assistant Emergency Relief Co-ordinator was given verbal assurances that some 80 Kivu participants to the National Consultation will not be persecuted upon their return to eastern DRC, during his meeting with RCD leadership on 31 March 2000 in Goma.

There is some concern regarding the return of civil society members from the east who have attended the National Consultation in Kinshasa. The representative of the HCHR will be working with the RCD to prepare them for this return and to try to ensure that no arbitrary arrests happen.

Food Security and Nutrition

The supply of locally produced foodstuffs in Kinshasa has, during the reporting period, increased for the first time in a long period. This is due to several factors: primarily, this is the end of the major harvest in the agricultural calendar. Traders are buying maize in bulk in order to (a) reduce the amount of cash in FC they hold and (b) in order to profit from the habitual upturn in prices during the period just before the next harvest. Manioc prices have remained stable but high, mainly because this is still the most popular staple food item, therefore, still much in demand.

Studies carried out in Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces seem to show that the coping and supply mechanisms needed to ensure food supply into Kinshasa have changed, yet again, in order to deal with the perturbations caused by the war. However, acute malnutrition is still on the increase in Kinshasa itself although severely malnourished numbers have decreased over the last trimester according to statistics of children in nutritional centres collected by FAO.

WFP has ample stocks for the coming months in terms of needs in Kinshasa but is most concerned by the lack of access outside the capital. They expect to receive a large portion of the food needs for all of government held territory and that for Equateur and Orientale in the coming months.

FAO Emergency section currently has the resources and programme plans for large programmes in the food security sector but is faced with enormous difficulties in the acquisition of appropriate locally produced seeds and the financial constraints imposed by the government concerning exchange rates to be used.

During the reporting period humanitarian assessment missions to Ituri, Orientale and Masisi, North Kivu have highlighted grave malnutrition problems linked mainly to forced displacement as a result of insecurity. Although to statistical data is yet available to support anecdotal evidence reports of at least 80% of the child population showing signs of oedema. In areas still accessible to humanitarian actors (Kitchanga, Rethy and Fataki) the appropriate agencies will be carrying out surveys in order that the amplitude of the problem can be amply demonstrated. It is to be stressed that these severe examples of distress and suffering are probably but the tip of an iceberg in comparison with the needs in the less accessible Kivus.

WFP is now beginning to receive food in their pipeline for 30,000 children in nutritional centres throughout the east and their families. The teams in North Kivu have verified IDP statistics in most accessible areas and support to those in need (currently identified 80,240) will commence, through international and national partners. Currently there is an average of 1752 children in therapeutic feeding centres and 2115 in supplementary; it is widely acknowledged that this support covers only a small proportion of the needs. Kisangani has large numbers of malnourished children in centres supported by international NGOs but, despite huge need, none is supporting the food security/agricultural sector. Resources need to be found for Orientale and Equateur provinces for this sector as the vast majority of the population do have access to their fields and live in enough security to plant and harvest but have very little means with which to do so.

Foot and mouth disease, imported due to the lack of border controls between Rwanda and DRC is now affecting large numbers of cattle on the Ruzizi Plain: a disaster if it reaches the Haut Plateau but already problematic as it is decimating herds and also affecting humans that come into contact with the cattle.

Health and Epidemics

Although health statistics are staggering all over the country, the reporting period has seen the most dramatic decline in Orientale. Once again the health zone of Watsa in reporting cases of haemorrhagic fever, 28 cases and more than 20 deaths since November. Most recently the death of three health staff working in the general hospital has created panic and caused the hospital to virtually empty of staff and patients. WHO is conducting a mission and have taken appropriate medical supplies and protective material, thanks to a breakthrough flight from Kinshasa to Goma on 30 March.

Outbreaks of meningitis (7 cases, 5 deaths in Watsa and an unspecified number in South Kivu) during the last three weeks. While there will be an MSF/H specialist team travelling from Goma to look at the haemorrhagic fever in the coming days, MSF/B from Kisangani will deal with the meningitis.

The health zone of Bumba has reported large numbers of cholera cases. A joint intervention by MSF/B, UNICEF, PEV under the direction of the provincial health structure has intervened to treat the cases presenting and to train the health staff concerned.

The health zone of Banalia has had an outbreak of measles (321 cases, no deaths reported). Again, a joint intervention under the auspices of the provincial health structure has mounted a vaccination campaign. w In the light of the likelihood of more such epidemics in the near future (particularly cholera along the riverbanks) it has been suggested that the level of emergency treatment and vaccination stocks be increased accordingly.

Of concern throughout the country is the resurgence of measlescases precipitated, in great part, by the displacements of populations. Particular increases are observed in South Kivu, North Kivu, the Kasaïs and Equateur. Eastern Kasaï reportedly has the worst epidemic of Monkey Pox the world has ever known, currently 315 cases.

The National Immunisation Days 2000 (NID) exercise received a strong push as WHO and UNICEF Representatives undertook a joint awareness-raising mission in rebel-held provinces in the early March.

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