Congo Crisis: Limited Humanitarian Access and More Violence Heighten Risks to Civilians
On Tuesday, Rwandan troops entered North Kivu as part of a joint offensive with the Congolese army in order to drive out Rwandan rebels (the FDLR) that have been present in Congo since 1994. The soldiers participating in the offensive moved into Rutshuru and Masisi, where the International Rescue Committee provides a range of relief services for villagers displaced or impacted by earlier rounds of fighting.
The increased volatility this week forced the IRC to postpone an immunization campaign and a distribution of emergency supplies and put on hold health, sanitation and education programs for two days. An IRC team that aids survivors of sexual violence was already in Rutshuru Wednesday and managed to continue limited services for women and girls. Temporary program suspensions in Rutshuru have become the norm in recent months because of the instability. Some areas of Rutshuru have become too volatile to access at all.
With movement largely restricted to areas close to Goma right now, the IRC is focusing its attention there. Today, the emergency team registered families in a camp just south of Goma near the town of Sake for a distribution scheduled for Saturday of 6,000 fuel-efficient stoves. It’s part of a program to prevent sexual assaults that frequently occur when women are out collecting firewood.
The IRC significantly expanded emergency relief programs in North Kivu after renewed hostilities broke out in 2008. IRC teams are assisting more than 500,000 people in the province.
Meanwhile, in South Kivu province, where the majority of Rwandan FDLR rebels are based, there is concern of spreading violence. As a precautionary measure, the IRC is temporarily scaling back programs and limiting movement to areas close to the provincial capital, Bukavu.To Help
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Read blogs from IRC aid workers in North Kivu, CongoMedia Contacts