DR Congo

Oxfam to scale up relief work in DR Congo

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International aid agency Oxfam are planning to help nearly 100,000 displaced people in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam's humanitarian director, said:

"Oxfam have over 40 staff still in Goma and we are working in four camps near to the town. We are already providing water to 65,000 people in those four camps, and despite the fighting that water is still flowing. We are looking at opening another two camps and helping an additional 30,000 people.

"Many people have fled the fighting to the Kanyabayonga region to the north of Goma. Oxfam are trucking water into this region and assessing the situation.

"We chose to evacuate five international staff who are just over the border in Rwanda, where they are keeping a close eye on the situation. They will hopefully return to Goma on Saturday morning."

Regarding UK foreign secretary David Miliband's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ms Cocking said:

"We welcome this high-level attention to the current crisis. We call on Mr Miliband to do all he can to bring the fighting to an end. The United Nation's peace-keeping force urgently needs strengthening so it can protect civilians and ensure aid gets to the people who desperately need it."

Oxfam's Godefroid Marhegane is in Goma: "A lot of people are displaced and living in the suburbs in very harsh conditions, and the fighting is making those conditions even worse because there's no access for humanitarian workers.

"They desperately need water, food and shelter. There's no health care or medicines. People are living in the open air, and if they do get a little food it's not enough to feed the whole family."

Celebrity photographer Rankin recently visited the camps outside Goma with Oxfam to take photos of the ordinary people whose lives are affected by the conflict. He said:

'The level of suffering there is horrendous. Despite the suffering that they have been through the people of Congo are just like us and need our help."

/ends

Notes to editors:

An estimated 5.4 million people have died in the DRC since 1998.
Around 1 million people have been made homeless.
Rape has been used as a systematic weapon of war

Celebrity photographer, Rankin, travelled recently with Oxfam to the DRC and visited some of the camps. The photos he took of teh inhabitants are available at: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=4031&k=528745acb3 Behind the Scenes images of Rankin working are here: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=4040&k=1c559dba80

Donations to www.oxfam.org.uk