Humanitarian concerns grow over deteriorating situation in North Kivu
(Kinshasa/Geneva, 20 July 2012) The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Democratic Republic of Congo is deeply concerned about the impact of recent fighting on thousands of families in the eastern province of North Kivu. The volatile situation also has consequences for humanitarian access and the ability of aid organizations to deliver assistance.
On 6 July, fighting broke out again in Rutshuru Territory, with the M-23- a group of breakaway soldiers from the national army- seizing control of some areas. On 16 July, another armed group, the Raia-Mutomboki, clashed with national army soldiers in Walikale Centre, a major town in North Kivu, forcing the relocation of some 60 humanitarian workers, with the help of UN peacekeepers, to the provincial capital, Goma. This represents one of the most significant deterioration of the situation in recent weeks.
The events of the past two weeks have displaced an unknown number of people and disrupted livelihoods; reduced access and hindered aid delivery, and led to numerous protection incidents such sexual violence and child soldier recruitment, and communal violence. The recent fighting is exacerbating what is already one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises.
Since April 2012, a deteriorating security situation borne out of armed confrontations between the national army and the M-23, defections among the national army, and the activism of other armed groups have provoked the displacement of at least 220,000 people within the province. Also, more than 43,000 have crossed into neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.
“I call on all fighting parties to take all precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life, and attacks on non-military targets,” said Fidele Sarassoro, Humanitarian Coordinator for DRC, today in Kinshasa. “It is also vital that they ensure the necessary safety and unhindered access to humanitarian actors, so that life-saving assistance can be delivered to people in need.”
Sarassoro also urged international partners to provide all appropriate additional support, including financially, so that UN agencies and non-governmental organizations can continue to deliver aid, despite the very difficult operating conditions.