DR Congo

IRC emergency teams aid civilians left homeless by latest Congo violence

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Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo 04 Nov 2008 - The International Rescue Committee has stepped up its emergency response in the conflict-affected North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where recent fighting has left approximately 250,000 people homeless.

IRC teams today launched extensive water and sanitation activities in three sites outside of Goma, providing a total of 57,500 people with temporary latrines and showers. Next IRC aid workers will rehabilitate and protect water sources, ensuring access to safe drinking water.

The importance of rapid water and sanitation interventions has been most evident in Kitchanga camp, where a cholera outbreak is already affecting as many as 10 civilians per day. The IRC is seeking to limit the spread of the disease by disinfecting public latrines and huts where cholera cases have been found.

Meanwhile, cholera has also been reported in Goma itself. The IRC has stepped in with hygiene awareness activities, distribution of hygiene materials and the construction of temporary latrines for around 1,800 civilians taking shelter in public sites.

Children are particularly vulnerable in the wake of violence and displacement. Not only are their immediate needs unmet; but their families and schools - along with their sense of stability and safety - have been disrupted. As a first step toward restoring safe environments for children and youth, IRC teams traveled today to the town of Sake to assess and prepare for the construction of temporary schools.

The IRC is increasing its emergency response presence in North Kivu and continues to evaluate emerging needs, particularly in the areas of health and assistance to victims of sexual violence.

Recent violence in eastern Congo comes after renewed hostilities between the Congolese army and rebel forces led by General Laurent Nkunda. Despite a peace deal signed in January 2008, fighting resumed in late August and intensified in the last week of October.

Displaced civilians are hungry, tired, and wary of the fragile ceasefire in the region. The IRC remains committed to delivering life-saving assistance to the children, women and men uprooted by conflict in Congo.