Geneva, 14 June 2007
Even as reports are trickling in of people slowly returning to their homes, following the first democratic elections in more than 40 years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), other reports indicate that once again, violence is flaring in the east of the country, where government troops and rebels continue a grinding war. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced for nearly a decade after fleeing the conflict that has essentially paralysed much of the country since 1998, and now, with people slowly returning home, it is a first and small step in the recovery of a country that has been mired in a humanitarian crisis for so long, and one that cannot simply be dismissed as 'over'.
The DRC has generated successive outflows of refugees into neighbouring countries, while civil strife in these countries has caused others to spill into the DRC. Overall, an estimated 16 million people have been directly affected by hostilities; people who are without access to adequate food or services, and who have been forced to live with host communities under circumstances that are not ideal. Mortality rates in some areas approach five times that of the rest of sub-Sahara, partly as a result of violence, but more importantly, because of widespread disease and malnutrition.
The ACT International members in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have responded to various emergencies through a number of ACT appeals since 1996. Now, nine of the currently registered members in the region are planning to respond jointly through this appeal in the provinces of Maniema, Oriental, South and North Kivu, where communities are hosting tens of thousands of displaced people. The programs contained in this appeal will concentrate on creating income-generating projects for women,, and provide food and non-food items. While working with community groups, the members will also deliver clean water and sanitation facilities to minimise two of the most important environmental health risks in emergency situations, that of HIV and malaria.
Working in 18 areas of the 4 provinces, the ACT Forum members plan to assist 22,321 displaced/returnee households (an estimated 156,247 people including 62,500 children, 55,400 women, 36,624 men and 1,723 elderly). Food will be provided to 6,585 vulnerable households and 2,400 malnourished children. Forty wells will be rehabilitated to provide safe water to 8,000 households. 8,456 households will receive kits of non-food items and 2,387 families will receive plastic sheeting. Food staple and horticultural seeds will be given to 12,315 households and 806 women victims of sexual violence will be helped to restore their livelihoods through income generating activities. 34 schools and 22 health posts will be rehabilitated and all the distributions will be accompanied by awareness-raising on means of protection against HIV/AIDS. Twenty-three staff of member - and implementing agencies will be trained in humanitarian codes and management principles.
This appeal will be implemented from July 2007- June 2008 and culminates from a joint assessment by the members carried out in April 2007.