Burundi + 2 more

Central Africa: Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo Update February 2000

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Throughout Central Africa Catholic Relief Services is Reaching Those In Need.
Democratic Republic of Congo's:

In the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital of Kinshasa, floodwaters from the heavy rains and flash floods of the Ndjili River that displaced up to 50,000 people have receded and most residents have returned to their homes. These people were from the capital city's poorest neighborhoods. Over the next few months, Catholic Relief Services and its local partner, the Archdiocese of Kinshasa's Diocesan Development Office, will work to prevent future flood risks. Major structural problems such as clogged drainage canals and tributaries remain unresolved, presenting a problem for the affected areas until the end of the rainy season in May.

In the country's Bas-Congo Province, an armed conflict from between rebel groups and government backed forces left many of this provinces health centers and hospitals in desperate need. Catholic Relief Services and its local partner, the Diocesan Medical Office of Kisantu, completed an 8-month project rehabilitating and re-equipping war-affected health facilities.

Combating critical child malnutrition, Catholic Relief Services sister agency, Caritas Netherlands are working with local partners to feed nearly 3,000 malnourished children in Kabinda City. Many people face hunger cause by fighting between government forces and foreign-backed rebel groups in the interior Eastern Kasai province. The population of the city has been cut off from traditional sources of agricultural production and trade. This has led to critical food shortages in the city, further exacerbated by the presence of 15,000 displaced people who fled into the city from surrounding rural areas.

Burundi

Since 1993, large-scale ethnic violence has plagued Burundi and has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people and the displacement of over a million more. CRS/Burundi has been involved since the onset of the crisis in 1993 in emergency response activities to this ongoing crisis. Given this constant activity, the agency has become - for two years - the United Nations/Non-Governmental Organizations lead agency in Burundi for the nation-wide non-food items focus (including doing needs assessments, distributions, coordination, compiling stock of relief items, etc.)

Recently over 300,000 people were forced from their homes into camps in the hills surrounding the capital city of Bujumbura. This was done by the military to try to stop the rebel attacks against the city of Bujumbura. The people are living in makeshift banana leaf huts. The rains have begun and people, primarily women and children, are living in dreadful conditions lacking descent shelter, sanitation and food.

In response to this crisis, Catholic Relief Services distributed 15,500 pieces of plastic sheeting for shelter, 35,600 blankets, and 76,000 pieces of soap and 14,800 water cans for potable water to 140,000 people. Catholic Relief Services will also be distributing additional food donated by the United Nations World Food Program.

There does not seem to be an end in sight to these types of camps which means that food and non-food distributions will need to continue to alleviate the suffering of the regrouped populations.

Rwanda

Rwanda is also in a vulnerable position regionally with the current conflict in Congo. Catholic Relief Services is one of only a handful of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that was able to provided much-needed agricultural rehabilitation assistance in the Gisenyi Prefecture in northwestern Rwanda. For 11,000 people who recently returned to their homes the project increased their food output by 1300 metric tons of potatoes and 785 metric tons of mixed vegetables. These yields for potatoes were even higher than the expected 990 metric tons beneficiaries were hoping for.

The project, done in coordination with the Diocesan Development Office of Gisenyi/Nyundo, was further expanded to include two other communes, Rwerere and Kanama, also in the Gisenyi Prefecture. This project improved the food security situation of 30,000 recently returning and other vulnerable families.

Background of the Situation

The Great Lakes region in Africa has been gripped throughout this decade by ongoing political, security, social, and humanitarian crises. Continued insecurity in Rwanda and Burundi have intersected with political/ethnic conflict and now civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and even more displacement in one of the most complex emergency situations ever known.

History

Catholic Relief Services remains committed to the people in the countries. Having worked in the region since the mid-1960s, the agency continues to support food distributions, and health and agriculture projects.

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