DR Congo

DR Congo/North Kivu: Tension is high as cholera adds to plight of refugees

News and Press Release
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"At least 252,000 people have been driven from their homes since the end of August adding to the other thousands of refugees that had been living in the refugee camps for quite some time; unfortunately, their number is destined to grow after the wide scale violence perpetrated by the regular army as it retreated from the area of Kanyabayonga", said the spokesman for the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for North Kivu, Christophe Illemassene. Sources from the CNDP rebels led by former general Laurent Nkunda, said that the latter rebel group had taken control over the center of Kanyabayonga. Kanyabayonga is the access gate to the northern part of the province of North Kivu and it represents an important fastening area for the axes of internal communication; the transfer of the city to the rebels follows analogous developments in the nearby villages of Rwindi and Kibirizi. "In the clashes among rebels, Mayi-Mayi self defense rebels and regular forces the heaviest and most dramatic consequences have been endured by the civilian population - said the OCHA spokesman - and what concerns us is also the worsening health situation in view of a cholera epidemic in the area around Goma and in some areas of South Kivu". So far, according to Illemassene, there have been about 200 proven cases, but the epidemic is spreading quickly. As the situation evolves, it is nonetheless evident that MONUC has not been able to intercede between the warring parties. On the political front, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) has spoken out against the exacerbation of the violence and in favor of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis. In a note, the party said that any military action to resolve the crisis would be destined to fail, while space more room should be given to diplomacy through the organization of a roundtable open to all nearby countries, and not just limited to the RD Congo and Rwanda.