DRC: ICRC steps up efforts to help people in North and South Kivu

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The ICRC has been stepping up its humanitarian activities in response to escalation of the conflict in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the latter part of last year.

In spite of the hopes generated by the Goma Peace Conference in January this year, the lack of security has continued to have a devastating impact on civilians in many parts of North and South Kivu.

To finance the increase in activities, the ICRC is asking donors for an additional eight million Swiss francs, bringing its total 2008 budget for the DRC to 45 million francs (more than 46 million US dollars).

"The current insecurity is mainly due to skirmishes between armed groups and attacks on the civilian population, marked by a high number of violations of international humanitarian law," says Max Hadorn, head of the ICRC delegation in Kinshasa. "Without improved security, people displaced by the fighting and the violence will not be able to return home."

The ICRC plans to work with the Red Cross Society of the DRC to provide more than 37,000 displaced people with food for three months and to distribute essential household items to 115,000 displaced people. It also aims at distributing seed and agricultural tools to 30,000 civilians returning home and 10,000 households hosting displaced families, to allow them to grow sufficient food.

The organization will also continue to provide surgical expertise and additional medical supplies to hospitals treating the wounded, and to expand its support to victims of sexual violence. It will also dedicate additional resources to providing clean water in areas that have received a large influx of displaced people.

The ICRC will continue to document allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. The organization discusses these bilaterally with military authorities and armed groups with a view to ending violations, urging the various parties to protect civilians. It will maintain contact with all parties to the conflict, to remind them of their obligation to protect and respect the physical safety of civilians, the wounded and people detained in connection with the fighting.

As part of its efforts to accomplish this, the ICRC will continue to visit detainees and to help people separated by the conflict, in particular children and former child soldiers.

International Committee of the Red Cross