DRC Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin May - Jun 2000

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 14 Jul 2000

Context

More than ever before since the onset of the war, the reporting period provided ample and eloquent arguments to perceive the humanitarian crisis in the DRC as a unique drama caused in the first place by unbridled violence, defiant impunity and ongoing violation of fundamental humanitarian principles.

What comes first is the cold-blooded settlement of scores between two foreign troops in DRC’s third largest town, using heavy armament and ignoring humanitarian cease-fires in a total disregard for the fate of 600,000 civilians. Such exceptional circumstances led to the non less remarkable adoption of the UNSC Resolution 1304, marked by references to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and by the presence of Ugandan and Rwandan Foreign ministers.

Parallel to blatant violations of humanitarian principles, the level of daily mortality as a direct effect of the ongoing war in eastern DRC, as surveyed recently by International Rescue Committee, gives a horrific account of the silent disaster experienced by Congolese civilians in eastern provinces. Daily violence, mutual fears combined with shrinking access to most basic health services, are breeding an environment of vulnerability that led civilians of Kivu to portray themselves as the "wrecked of the earth". In a poorly inhabited and remote province such as Maniema, an FAO mission estimated at 68% of the population the proportion of those who had to flee from home at one point since August 1998 (110,000 are still hiding in the forest).

A third, most ordinary facet of DRC’s humanitarian crisis, is that witnessed by a humanitarian team in a village on the frontline in northern Katanga, where the absence of food and non food trade across the frontline (with the exception of discreet exchanges between troops) brings both displaced and host communities on the verge of starvation.

These three features of DRC’s humanitarian tragedy - shelling in a city centre, daily violence in rural areas, interruption of supply routes due to the war - have developed against a background of erratic compliance and interpretation of the Lusaka accord by signatory parties. While the disengagement of forces was being signed by the DRC Government during the high level visit of the Security Council mission led by Ambassador Hoolbrooke (5 May), clashes had abruptly resumed in Kisangani between Uganda and Rwanda forces, and the frontline was re-drawn on its Equateur’s end through frontal combats and bombings. As for the inter-Congolese dialogue, the failure of Cotonou’s preliminary meeting as well as the rebuff of Sir Katumile Masire as Facilitator by Kinshasa and the trials officially set against the fathers of MLC’s first and second in command, concur in keeping the whole process in limbo. The unilateral launching of a constituent assembly in Kinshasa is seen by other parties to Lusaka as another block on the road. Overall, May and June 2000 appear retrospectively as a period when the Lusaka accord has been most referred to while being most questioned in practice by all parties.

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