DR Congo

UN delivering humanitarian aid as ceasefire holds in eastern DR Congo

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Although the overall situation in the volatile North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is tense and unpredictable, no major ceasefire violations or attacks on civilians and property have been reported, the United Nations reported today.

As a result, humanitarian agencies are forging ahead with the delivery of vital assistance to those affected by the crisis, which has forced at least one quarter of a million people from their homes in the eastern part of the vast African nation since August.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said a dozen of its trucks loaded with 100 tons of food encountered no problems between the provincial capital Goma and the nearby towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja. Food aid is being delivered to 12,000 people today out of a total of 50,000 who have applied for assistance.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today reiterated its concern for the safety of tens of thousands of people taking shelter in two camps on the outskirts of Goma.

The sites north of the capital are close to the frontlines of the fighting between Government forces (FARDC) and a rebel militia called the Congress in Defence of the People (CNDP) led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda.

UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva that the ongoing security threat has led the agency, along with provincial authorities and aid partners, to move the over 65,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the two camps in Kibati to a new 26-hectare site west of Goma.

"The transfer is expected to begin next week," Mr. Redmond said, noting that UNHCR and other agencies plotted out the locations of facilities - such as latrines, access roads and shelter blocks - at the new camp yesterday.

He anticipates the voluntary move to be "complicated," with many travelling the 15 kilometres between Kibati and the new Mugunga III camp by foot. Those unable to walk will be transported by truck.

Meanwhile, UNHCR and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are continuing their distribution of supplies - including blankets, sleeping mats, soap and plastic sheeting - today in Kibati.

Yesterday, a UNHCR-chartered plane landed in Goma from Uganda carrying 1,500 bales of plastic sheeting and three giant portable warehouse tents.

On Wednesday, a six-truck UNHCR convoy arrived in Goma from its warehouse in Tanzania, bringing thousands of kitchen sets, blankets and sleeping mats, among other supplies.

Amid the ongoing crisis, UNICEF said that armed militias have recruited children in Kitchanga, north of Goma. A number of 14-year-old children are also reported to have been forcibly enlisted in Rugare and Rutshuru, bringing the estimated total of children drafted into the fighting to 3,000.