DR Congo

DR Congo crisis: Protect women from recurrent rape and abuse - ActionAid to AU, UN

Incessant violence in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo could trigger a humanitarian crisis as efforts to deliver assistance to people already in dire need are hampered and more people flee into Goma from the war fronts with rebel forces, ActionAid is warning.

"Gunshots were heard all over Goma last night and looting was reported in many houses, shops and supermarkets," Alpha Sankoh, ActionAid's Director based in Goma says.

"ActionAid has had to cancel its distribution of emergency supplies to 12,000 families today in Masisi camp in North Kivu province.

The organisation was also due to distribute 3,000 jerry cans for storing water to displaced people in Mugunga camp 1 outside Goma town," Sankoh added.

The humanitarian situation is deteriorating further as international humanitarian agencies are forced to suspend their ongoing relief operations.

General Nkunda, the leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) has declared a unilateral ceasefire but the situation remains tense.

International aid workers are still held up at the UN camp at the border with Rwanda while all national workers remain at home.

People have flocked to Goma in tens of thousands fearing rampant and indiscriminate use of violence, but humanitarian assistance is still being hampered.

To address the crisis, ActionAid is calling for:

An immediate and internationally enforced ceasefire and disarmament of warring factions.

Guaranteed safe passage for humanitarian workers and assistance to those in need of help.

The International community to make available material and financial resources to take care of more than 800,000 persons displaced by the conflict and deploy more forces to enforce peace in the province.

The African Union should call for an extraordinary summit and agree on clear time-bound milestones for returning eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to peace. These should guarantee enforcement of the Amani programme of action by the Congolese State and the warring factions.

The UN Security Council and the African Union must jointly commit to protect women from recurrent, indiscriminate and pervasive rape and sexual abuse and ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

ActionAid works in the DR Congo to promote the rights of women and others displaced by conflict and those affected by HIV and Aids through livelihood alternatives. The organisation also runs programmes to help people reduce their vulnerability to disasters, deal with trauma and promote education.

Media contacts: Eric MGENDI +254 735 702-701