DR Congo

Medical support reduced in three health zones in D.R. Congo due to insecurity

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D.R. Congo - Ongoing violent attacks against civilians have forced international NGO Medair to reduce its health care supervision in three health zones south of Bunia, while it continues to support IDPs in Dungu.

Several different militia groups are wreaking havoc in northeastern D.R. Congo, with conflicts erupting across the region and civilians left suffering in their wake. In Ituri District, the rebel group Front Populaire pour la Justice au Congo (FPJC) has recently begun attacking villages and displacing residents. Overall security in the region has become extremely unsafe.

Effective immediately, Medair has reduced its coverage in Nyankunde, Boga, and Gety health zones until security improves, a region that includes approximately 140,000 residents. The other 14 health zones that Medair supports remain fully accessible at this time.

As a result, Medair will not be able to have health staff on-the-ground in Nyankunde, Boga, or Gety to provide health centres with medical and logistical supervision. However, medical care will still be available through local clinics, and Medair will continue to distribute drugs to areas where there are many IDPs (as security permits), and will reimburse health structures for any free care they provide for IDPs.

"The health zones of Nyankunde, Boga and Gety are very fragile zones," said Dr. John Kanyamanda, Medair's Deputy National Medical Coordinator. "They have been hit with insecurity often in the past, so it's the same population that suffers and suffers again. Now, as we have to reduce our activities and thousands of people flee from these regions, we highly fear that epidemics and diseases will soon follow."

In the meantime, Medair is providing health care and free medicines to IDPs who flee from those health zones to more accessible regions.

Meanwhile, in Haut-Uélé District, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to threaten the region and displace residents. An estimated 23,800 IDPs have arrived in Dungu territory, 6,000 of them in Dungu town alone.

Medair has been providing medical support to the displaced in Dungu ever since the crisis began at the end of September, and that support will continue.

The security situation has been relatively calm in Dungu for the past few days, and Medair health supervisors have been able to safely provide assistance to the most vulnerable. In addition, another transport of free medicines to health clinics in the area is currently being prepared.

At first, Medair was the only active international NGO in the area, but fortunately there are now several NGOs present to share the responsibility. Nonetheless, Jean de Dieu Mopanga, Medair's Medical Supervisor in Dungu, reports that the situation remains very difficult.

"The families that welcomed the IDPs shared everything they had with the displaced people - their food, their water, their homes," said Mr. Mopanga. "Some have welcomed 35 to 45 people. There is just not enough space for everybody and neither is there enough food. It is encouraging to see that other NGOs join us now, so that IDPs won't be forced to return to their insecure villages just because they lack assistance."

"Medair is absolutely committed to continue providing emergency relief and rehabilitation to the people of D.R. Congo as we have done for the past 11 years," said John Farmer, Medair's Operations Director. "We intend to remain active in Dungu and in all our other accessible health zones and, as soon as security permits, to resume our supervisions in the three affected health zones as well."

Since 1998, the International Rescue Committee estimates that an astonishing 5.4 million people have died in DRC from war-related causes, particularly from hunger and disease. For 11 years, Medair has provided emergency relief and rehabilitation in the country for millions of suffering people, and has been called, "the most respected organisation in the entire region." Now, with violent conflict tragically escalating once again, Medair applies our expertise from over a decade of experience to bring urgent life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable of DRC.

Medair brings life-saving relief and rehabilitation in disasters, conflict areas, and other crises by working alongside the most vulnerable. Our internationally recruited staff are motivated.