IRC to Resume Eastern Congo Programs; Aids Refugees in Burundi
Programs serving approximately one million people in the east were suspended after an outbreak of fighting last month between dissident troops and the Congolese army.
Tension remains high in and around the border town of Bukavu, the IRC's operations hub in eastern Congo, but evacuated staff members are returning to restart water, sanitation, primary health care assistance and aid for survivors of gender-based violence.
"We hope that programs for violence affected communities can start up next week," says David Sullivan, the IRC's program manager for the Great Lakes area
Thousands of civilians have fled the area around Bukavu, fearing renewed war with neighboring Rwanda. The Congolese government has deployed an extra 10,000 troops to the region.
Kinshasa, the capital, also saw unrest last month in what the government claimed was an attempted coup.
An IRC team is also assessing the situation in Kisangani further northwest in the Orientale province, where IRC's offices were looted by mobs protesting the inability of the U.N. and the army to control the rebels in Bukavu.
The IRC is also carrying out a needs assessment in Rwanda's Cyangugu Province across the border from Congo where thousands of newly arrived Congolese refugees have settled. Due to the tension between the two countries, the Congo-Rwanda border is closed, which will negatively affect life in Bukavu and Goma further north since fuel and other goods are routinely brought in from Rwanda.
Stiennon says registration of refugees has still not started, adding to the general uncertainty about the size of the targeted population and of the response needed. Meanwhile, the IRC is launching a survey to identify unaccompanied minors among the refugees and determine the best way to respond to their protection needs.