DR Congo

Concern warns of looming humanitarian disaster in DR Congo

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NGO staff evacuated from key towns as security situation deteriorates.

Concern Worldwide today warned of a looming humanitarian disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over 1.3 million people are already internally displaced and humanitarian agencies are struggling to maintain effective operations in a rapidly deteriorating security situation. Rebel CNDP forces continue their advance against government FARDC troops in the eastern province of North Kivu.

Evacuation of staff

Concern has evacuated its staff from the towns of Masisi and Goma, is calling on the international community to broker a ceasefire.

Concern has approximately 300 local and international staff based in DRC. Two of its key programme towns in the country, Masisi and Goma, are currently at the centre of the fighting.

On Wednesday 29th October 2008, Concern staff in Masisi had to return to the organisation's main base in Goma as the CNDP closed in on the town, the second time in a month that Concern has been forced to evacuate its staff from Masisi. As retreating FARDC troops fled towards Goma, along with thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs), Concern personnel on the ground took the desicion to close their offices in the border town.

"The international community must continue to promote a durable ceasefire agreement for North Kivu," said Louise Supple, Regional Director of Concern Worldwide. "We are calling for the international community to now focus on opening up a humanitarian dialogue with all parties to the conflict to negotiate a humanitarian space to aid the civilian population."

Emergency response

With little prospect of the security situation improving in the short-term, the Concern team is standing by to return to Goma to provide an emergency response to the new waves of civilians that have been displaced for the second, third or fourth time in the last year.

Concern also says it is essential the humanitarian community co-ordinates operations to focus targeted resources for the most vulnerable displaced people still living in the refugee camps and those currently seeking refuge in the host communities in Goma town.

Calling for the international community to work towards reaching a ceasefire agreement, Concern also says that the humanitarian community in Goma must take all possible steps to work as closely as possible with the peacekeeping mission, MONUC, to ensure the shared mandate of the protection and the assistance of the civilian population.

Concern's operations in other territories of DRC remain unaffected by the security situation in North Kivu.

Concern's Recent Work in DRC

The rapidly deteriorating security situation in recent days has greatly impeded Concern Worldwide's humanitarian relief effort which, in coordination with its partners, is providing assistance to approximately 14,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in four camps located in and close to Masisi town. Concern has been providing essential shelter and household items to the IDP's, who have been living in overcrowded camps for almost a year now.

Concern has also been providing support to approximately 2,400 host families in the area who have taken IDP families into their homes and provided them with shelter. This support has come in the form of agricultural inputs, such as seeds and tools, as well as training so that host families can increase their access to food, which they are having to share with the IDP families.

Concern has also been supporting rehabilitation works on key roads and bridges in the areas, which has been providing employment to both IDP and host households. These works have injected significant amounts of cash into the local economy, thereby having a knock-on beneficial impact on the whole community.