DR Congo

DR Congo: IRC responds to humanitarian crisis in north Kivu

The International Rescue Committee is scaling up emergency humanitarian response in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after intensified violence displaced an estimated 250,000 people over the past week.

The IRC's Emergency Response Team is targeting assistance to 15,000 families in and around Goma, the provincial capital that is once again a scene of chaos and human suffering as displaced civilians flood into already overburdened camps and take shelter in public buildings.

Active fighting on major access roads to the city has until recently thwarted efforts to reach the huge number of displaced people.

A new but tentative ceasefire between rebel and government forces means the IRC can now address the vital needs of families forced to flee their homes without the time to pack necessary items.

Over the coming days, the IRC's emergency relief efforts will include building latrines, providing access to safe water, and distributing basic items such as blankets, bedding and mosquito nets.

As civilians wait anxiously for signs of help and calm, the IRC will also be deploying health workers to assess immediate requirements.

IRC relief efforts will be in and around the areas of Ishasha, Rutshuru, and Goma.

The most recent violence and displacement of civilians comes as a result of renewed fighting between the Congolese army and rebel forces led by General Laurent Nkunda.

Fighting between the two sides resumed in late August, despite a peace deal signed in January 2008.

The United Nations estimates that 500,000 civilians have been forced from their homes since then.