DR Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Civilians continue to suffer

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The fierce fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has forced thousands more to flee. Arms bearers are murdering, raping and looting the civilian population. Working with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Croix-Rouge de la RDC, CRRDC), the ICRC is continuing to assist the suffering population.

General situation

In North Kivu, violent clashes have occurred south of Kanyabayonga, while the situation in the South Lubero region is also giving cause for considerable concern. The populations of Kayna, Kanyabayonga and Kirumba - some 120 km north of Goma - have been severely affected, both by the fighting and by the killings, looting and rapes perpetrated by arms bearers.

Tens of thousands of civilians have had to flee further north, towards the towns of Lubero, Butembo and Béni. These people are in a very vulnerable situation, as are the thousands of displaced persons near Goma (around the town of Saké and the village of Bweremana, 30 km west of Goma), near the towns of Nyamilima and Ishasha (100 km north-east of Goma) and near Minova, in South Kivu.

Needs

The civilian population lacks food, water, medical care, shelter and security. Fleeing for their lives, many have lost contact with their families. As a result, many children are alone.

The residents of Goma and the surrounding area - as far out as the town of Saké and the village of Bweremana - are having difficulty obtaining supplies, as the roads are unsafe. Resupply difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that the security situation has prevented these people from working their fields since the end of October.

What the ICRC is doing

Saké and Bweremana (25 km west of Goma)

-Since 19 November, the ICRC and volunteers from the CRRDC have distributed food to over 50,000 people (both residents and displaced persons) in the town of Saké and the village of Bweremana.

-The food includes flour, palm oil, beans and salt. Distribution has been taking place in coordination with the World Food Programme, and the food will be enough for a month.

Camps at Kibati (15 km north-east of Goma)

-The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC have now finished distributing basic necessities to the over 34,000 displaced persons who have arrived at Kibati's displaced persons' camps since the end of October. In addition, 7,500 residents and newly-displaced persons have received emergency food aid in the form of flour, oil, beans and salt.

-The National Society and the ICRC are continuing to supply drinking water to areas around Kibati that have no infrastructure. Every day, more than 80,000 litres are delivered to distribution points at Kanyarutshina and Munigui, benefiting over 30,000 people.

-In close cooperation with the CRRDC, the ICRC is supporting two counselling centres in the camps. These facilities assist and counsel victims of sexual violence.

-Dozens of CRRDC volunteers are carrying out hygiene-awareness activities.

Goma

-The CRRDC has started distributing food to over 1,200 displaced persons who have taken refuge in five public buildings (schools and churches).

-An ICRC surgical team consisting of a surgeon, an anaesthetist, two nurses and a physiotherapist are working at Katindo military hospital. The hospital has also received medicines and other supplies to enable them to provide emergency treatment for the wounded.

Vitshumbi (Rutshuru territory, some 120 km north of Goma)

-An emergency water installation at Vitshumbi (south of Lake Edward) was set up in October and is being managed by a local Red Cross committee. This facility is producing some 70,000 litres of drinking water a day, for 12,000 residents and displaced persons.

Béni - Butembo - Kirumba (150 km north of Goma)

-Following fighting in the town of Kirumba, CRRDC volunteers have been collecting and identifying bodies, disinfecting and, where conditions allow, notifying relatives.

-In the towns of Béni and Butembo, National Society volunteers have been conducting a survey of displaced persons in public buildings and host families, with a view to organizing aid for them.

-The ICRC has provided Butembo general hospital with medical supplies for treating the wounded.

Protection

The ICRC and the CRRDC have been attempting to find children who became separated from their families as they fled. Local radio stations are playing an important role in these efforts.

The ICRC has continued its protection and relief activities for the inmates of Goma prison.