DR Congo

DRC: Violence forces health workers out of northeastern Congo

News and Press Release
Originally published
By David Lewis

Kinshasa, 02 August 2005 -

A recent kidnapping of aid workers and continuing violence against civilians have forced the French medical charity Doctors Without Borders to stop field operations in Congo's lawless Ituri district. Their decision to limit operations to an emergency hospital in the main town, Bunia, will deprive 100,000 displaced civilians of basic healthcare and highlights the on-going trouble in Ituri.

The aid workers were released unharmed 10 days after they were captured in June by gunmen in the rolling hills of Ituri. But after months of continuing violence against civilians, a French medical charity has decided it has had enough and stopped much of its operation in the field.

The decision by Doctors Without Borders, known as MSF, to limit its activities in Ituri to Bunia town has left 100,000 civilians who fled fighting and are sheltering in displaced camps without any basic healthcare.

But in an effort to highlight the level of on-going violence in Ituri, where 60,000 people have died since 1999, MSF issued a report documenting the murders, torture, rape, and kidnappings that have become a part of daily life in the lawless northeast.

Congo's wider, five-year war officially ended two years ago, and the tenuous peace is being overseen , populations living outside Bunia have been left to fend for themselves.