DR Congo

International Medical Corps continues delivering emergency relief in Democratic Republic of Congo as potential for renewed fighting threatens to deepen crisis

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November 4, 2008, Los Angeles, Calif. - With the possibility of a failed ceasefire and renewed fighting threatening to worsen an already disastrous humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Medical Corps is carrying out urgently needed distributions of therapeutic food to thousands of displaced civilians - many of them children.

"We fear that this crisis could develop into a full-blown catastrophe if fighting reignites," said Pierre Willems, International Medical Corps' Country Director in DRC. "Several of our health centers have been destroyed, and the delivery of life-saving medical and nutrition services have been severely curtailed."

International Medical Corps (IMC) also warns that there is a growing danger of disease outbreaks. So far, 100 cases of cholera have been reported, along with several deaths.

On Monday, thousands of hungry children lined up in Kibati Camp, near Goma, where International Medical Corps and UNICEF were able to provide their first therapeutic food distribution since the latest conflict erupted.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled fighting between government and rebel troops in North Kivu Province - adding to the estimated one million people displaced by an escalation of hostilities in the region a year ago.

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda declared a unilateral ceasefire over the weekend, and so far it has held. However, a rebel spokesman has said the groundwork is being laid for a generalized war in the region.

International Medical Corps has been operating in the most volatile regions of DRC since the mid-90's. In North Kivu province, where much of the recent fighting has taken place, IMC runs primary health care clinics and nutrition programs that serve more than 300,000 people.

The following people are available for interviews:
In Goma - Pierre Willems, Country Director
In Bukavu - Selam Kebrom, Desk Officer
In Washington, D.C. - Ben Hemingway, Deputy Director of Operations

Photos and Video also available.

For more information, visit our website at www.imcworldwide.org.