War far from over in Congo as Caritas launch appeal
03 July 2009
Caritas says it needs to raise US $12 million to provide for the basic needs for 400,000 people who have been driven from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
View of the City of Luofu (North Kivu) after the fire in April 2009 by rebels of the Rwandan FDLR
An upsurge in fighting since the start of the year in eastern Congo has left over 1.3 million people without homes and in acute need of food, shelter, protection, medical help and counseling.
The Caritas Internationalis 2009 appeal on behalf of its 165 members will provide food rations, items such as cooking pots and cutlery, medical care and support for schools.
The violence is being caused by FDLR militias (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) in North and South Kivu, by Ugandan rebels called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale Province (Eastern Province), and by a lack of discipline in the Congolese national army.
Caritas Congo National Director Dr Bruno Miteyo said, “The war is far from over in Congo and neither is the misery for the people. Hundreds of thousands more have been driven from their homes in fresh clashes between militias and the government. Their homes have been looted or burned. Protection from attack, rape, and looting is the most urgent need. The people also urgently need food, health care, and security. Caritas is able to reach the most vulnerable through parish and diocesan networks.”
Caritas is particularly concerned about women and children. During the first quarter of the year there have been 1,330 cases of rape in South Kivu. Caritas will provide medical care and counseling for 250 survivors of rape.
Child mortality in Congo remains too high. Over 14 percent of children will die before their fifth birthday. There are 1.3 million children suffering from malnutrition in Congo. Caritas will be providing food and medical help to cut hunger and disease. Caritas will also be providing support to 162 school teachers so that they can provide an education to children.
Fighting broke out in eastern Congo between a rebel group and government troops at the end of August 2008 causing an humanitarian crisis. Hope came at the end of the year with the arrest of the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, returns of displaced people, and military operations between neighbouring countries that succeeded in driving militias from the towns.
However, that hope has evaporated since January with an upsurge in violence driving more people from their homes as the FDLR reorganised and continued their attacks in North and South Kivu, and from Ugandan rebel attacks in Orientale Province (Eastern Province).
Pockets of instability have left tens of thousands without access to humanitarian relief. Caritas says at least 3,500 displaced in Isiro town have no access to aid while Dingila town has seen its population nearly double by from 14,000 to 26,000 by June.
Caritas aid worker killed in Congo - read news release
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