Since last week intense fighting in the areas of Rutshuru and Goma has left many dead and wounded, both civilians and fighters, and resulted in the displacement of thousands of people. Most of them fled without managing to even take essential items with them.
Civilians, whether displaced or residents, are the main victims of the rampant insecurity and instability in North Kivu. There have been many cases of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) committed by arms carriers against civilians - including looting, murder and rape - especially in the area of Rutshuru, where fighting is ongoing. The ICRC is equally concerned about allegations that children have been forcibly recruited to fight.
Many civilians fled towards Goma in order to find refuge in schools or camps for the displaced, for example in Kibati six kilometres north-east of the city. Within days, the population in these camps has risen from 20,000 to more than 65,000. As the infrastructure is insufficient, newly arriving families find themselves without shelter, in the middle of the rainy season. Drinking water and food are lacking and unhygienic conditions are affecting the health of the displaced.
The main issue of concern for the displaced is the lack of food. Available supplies are insufficient, and the price of food has almost doubled since the onset of the fighting in the region. The lack of food has also affected people who find themselves stuck between the fighting parties, unable to leave.
The ICRC's action is subject to the constantly changing security situation on the ground. In many areas, thousands of people affected by the fighting can still not be reached by humanitarian aid workers, especially in the Rutshuru and Masisi regions. The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect and respect the life and the integrity of civilians, the wounded and those detained, and to facilitate the access of humanitarian aid.
The ICRC has provided the four main hospitals in Goma with drugs and medical supplies (the general hospital, the military hospital in Katindo, the "Virunga" hospital and the "Heal Africa" hospital).
Kits for the treatment of wounded and sick have been distributed to four medical structures along the main roads in South Lubero region in the northernmost part of North Kivu.
The ICRC surgical team has been reinforced by an additional surgeon, an anaesthetist and two nurses. They have carried out numerous operations in Goma, and are continuing to support local medical personnel.
Stretchers and body bags have been distributed to the Red Cross Society of DRC.
Local Red Cross volunteers have helped to evacuate the wounded and to transport and burry tens of mortal remains.
Emergency assistance for the displaced
About 60,000 litres of drinking water per day are distributed to 20,000 displaced people staying in the camp area in Kibati without sufficient access to water.
On 5 November, the ICRC begun distributing 365 tons of food to more than 65,000 displaced people staying Kibati. The rations, which will feed the affected families for approximately ten days, include basics such as beans, flour, oil and salt.
The ICRC has installed latrines in the Kibati camps and local Red Cross volunteers have started a campaign to clean up the area.
Rub halls to provide temporary shelter to new arrivals are in the process of being set-up.
Several children separated from their families while on the run have been identified in the Kibati camps. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of DRC will start efforts to find their families and reunite them as soon as security conditions permit.
The ICRC continues to follow-up on the humanitarian situation of persons detained in the Goma prison. Last week firewood for the kitchen was delivered to the prison.
For further information, please contact :
Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Goma, tel: + 243 81 03 66 812
Pierre-Emmanuel Ducruet, ICRC Kinshasa, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 ou +41 79 217 32 17
or visit our website: www.icrc.org