DR Congo

UN says renewed violence affects thousands of civilians in eastern DR of Congo

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Some of the 65,000 civilians displaced in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during renewed clashes between Government soldiers and armed militias have been slowly returning to the area since United Nations peacekeepers have been deployed there, the mission says.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said it sent a team last week to four towns in Rutshuru Territory, about 120 kilometres north-east of Goma, to assess the population's situation after the fighting between Government forces and an alliance of DRC Mayi-Mayi militia and members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The team found 65,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), and MONUC's humanitarian section started talks with relief agencies to provide needed aid, as well as facilitate the IDPs' return home and their reintegration.

Another MONUC team visited an IDP camp of 1,300 people where two dozen of them had fallen ill from drinking water from a polluted river nearby. The camp is located 12 kilometres north-west of Beni, the mission said, adding that it was making arrangements for safe drinking water to be made available.

Meanwhile, MONUC was gearing up to start inoculating the children among the 1.3 million people in the virtually inaccessible northern Sankuru district of Eastern Kasaï Province against measles and polio. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) would add Vitamin A supplements during the vaccination campaign, MONUC said.