Escalating violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced more than 1 million people in the last two years, and left 5 million dead since fighting intensified 1998. War-related conflict and disease make it the deadliest conflict since World War II.
Warring factions have fought for control since the DRC gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko held power for 32 years until the rise of Laurent Kabila instigated rebellion in 1997. Fighting continued in 1998, when rebels linked to Rwanda and Uganda triggered a war involving six other nations. Dissident general Laurent Nkunda leads rebels in, the latest war for control of the resource-rich DRC.
On August 28, full-fledged fighting broke out in Masisi between government forces and Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People, and spread to the neighboring Rutshuru region. An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced since.
As fighting continues, an estimated 1,200 people die daily as a direct or indirect result of the conflict - more than half of them children. The fluid nature of the fighting means continuous displacement for non-combatants, making it difficult for humanitarian providers to reach those in need to provide assistance. As fighting closes off internal food sources and those displaced flee to more remote areas, malnutrition is already beginning to grip many.
Church World Service supports six implementing partner agencies operating under the Action by Churches Together-International network in the DRC: Lutheran World Federation, Bureau Oecuménique d'Appui au Développement, ECC (Church of Christ - Congo), Evangelical Lutheran Church in Congo, Norwegian Church Aid and Swiss Interchurch Aid (EPER/HEKS)
These agencies will work in concert to provide:
- water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for 55,000 women, men and children including new and existing internally displaced persons, returnees and the host communities
- food security for 9,650 host community and returnee households through the distribution of agricultural inputs (seeds and tools).
- nutritional supplements for 4,800 malnourished children
- psycho-social support and trauma healing to 9,000 IDPs and returnees affected by the ongoing armed conflict in Goma, Rutshuru and Nyanzale.
- the immediate material needs of 2,179 IDPs through the distribution of non-food items
Selection of beneficiaries will be made with priority given to:
- New vulnerable displaced/returnee households, particularly those with children
- A destitute and vulnerable host household with no means of income to support itself (including pregnant, lactating mothers, etc).
- Victims of sexual violence, people showing signs of trauma and ill people.
- Persons living with HIV/AIDS
Proposed assistance will be completed by Nov. 30, 2009.
How to help:
Contributions to support emergency response efforts may be sent to your denomination or directly to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Contributions may also be made online at www.churchworldservice.org/emergencyaid or by phone to 800.297.1516.
For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit www.churchworldservice.org or call the CWS Hotline, 800.297.1516, ext. 111.