DR Congo

DR Congo: IRC suspends programs in North Kivu after upsurge in fighting

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Renewed fighting in North Kivu has forced the International Rescue Committee to suspend its programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo's fractious eastern province.

The IRC has reduced staff levels in Goma and has placed its Rutshuru-based staff in the UN peacekeepers' compound while it monitors the situation and assesses the strength of the cease-fire announced late Wednesday by the National Congress for the Defense of the People, the rebel group led by General Laurent Nkunda.

During the fighting on Tuesday, the IRC's Rutshuru office was overrun by soldiers who stole vehicles and equipment.

IRC efforts earlier today to reach approximately 36,000 newly displaced people were thwarted due to active fighting on major access roads.

"We intend to resume our role as an emergency response service provider as soon as security permits access to newly displaced populations," Bob Kitchen, the IRC's emergency response team coordinator, said from the capital, Kinshasa.

The IRC continues its programming in the other five provinces where it works - Kinshasa, Katanga, South Kivu, Orientale and Kasai Occidental.