In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people in the Republic of Congo fled violence between rebel groups and the army -- and sought refuge in forests. Now slowly trickling into Brazzaville, thousands of these displaced people are in danger of dying from malnutrition. The first Netaid grant will be used to support an IRC feeding center for severely malnourished people. While a number of feeding centers in Brazzaville target children, the IRC's center is the only one that cares for adults and children over 10. "If they are not immediately fed and cared for, they'll die," said Luis Marreiros, the IRC's director in Congo-Brazzaville. "With this funding, we'll be able to maintain the center." The IRC's center has helped more than 10,000 malnourished people over the past year.
Also emerging from the forest are thousands of displaced women who were systematically raped by members of the army and militias - and are now bearing their children. The second Netaid grant funds a program to combat sexual and gender-based violence. The program includes a public awareness campaign as well health, legal, economic, and social services for rape survivors and their children.
The IRC has already assisted more than 2,000 of these women. Mr. Marreiros says the problem of sexual assault in the Republic of Congo is widespread and very serious. He says the IRC is hoping to expand its program outside Brazzaville and is working with other NGO's in this endeavor. The IRC was among 13 nongovernmental organizations awarded a total of $1.7 million to help fight poverty in Africa and in Kosovo. "We chose Africa and Kosovo for these initial grants because of their desperate needs," said David Morrison, president of the Netaid.org Foundation. "In Africa, 220 million people live in extreme poverty; and those surviving in war-torn Kosovo are facing a battle every day to rebuild and survive," he said.
"We're grateful to the Netaid Foundation for its exercise of leadership on behalf of the world's poorest people," said Reynold Levy, president of the IRC. "Its funding of the IRC's work in Congo-Brazzaville will save many, many lives."
Netaid.org was created by the United Nations Development Program and Cisco Systems to raise social consciousness about global poverty and to generate funding and support for groups fighting poverty. On October 9, Netaid sponsored concerts in London, Geneva, and New York featuring some of the world's leading musicians to draw attention to world poverty and a powerful tool to fight it - the internet. The Netaid website, www.netaid.org, is central to the foundation's campaign. The site provides information about poverty and ways individuals and donors can help anti-poverty efforts.