DR Congo

Humanitarian assistance remains a priority in eastern DR Congo

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With the number of internally displaced persons (IDP's) and IDP camps on the rise since the start, in August, of the current conflict in North Kivu, the humanitarian situation in eastern DR Congo remains very worrying, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a MONUC weekly press conference held on Wednesday 12 November.

Some 250,000 newly displaced persons are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, OCHA warned.

The UN agency reminded all sides to the conflict of their obligation to preserve and respect civilian infrastructure and property.

On current efforts to respond to the needs of the IDP's, MONUC announced that an aircraft carrying 36 tons of emergency aid supplies from the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had arrived Monday 11 November at Entebbe, Uganda. The supplies consisting, among other things, of some 1,500 plastic sheets and three prefab warehouses will be sent to Goma, and 3,000 jerry cans, 2,650 plastic sheets, 7,500 blankets and 1,500 kitchen utensils to Bunia, where, according to OCHA, distribution started on Tuesday.

However, UNHCR remains deeply concerned over the security of 65,000 staying at the two camps for IDP's at Kibaki in North Kivu.

Recalling earlier lootings in Goma, OCHA said that new and large-scale ones were perpetrated by FARDC soldiers during the night of 10 November at Kanyabayonga, Kirumba and Kayna, resulting in population displacements in these locations.

"All populations affected by this crisis have the right to be assisted. And for that to happen, the parties to the conflict must ensure that humanitarian organisations have unconditional access to - and assist these vulnerable populations," OCHA said.

It added, "given the high levels of militarization in the region, the numerous lootings and death threats, it has become so difficult for humanitarian organisations to access vulnerable people, that some of these agencies have been obliged to withdraw from these areas preventively and temporarily."