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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

DRC: US sends emergency aid for Ituri IDPs

KINSHASA, 13 June 2003 (IRIN) - The US government has sent a consignment of emergency supplies to help 55,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Bunia and surrounding areas, officials at the US embassy in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said on Thursday.

The consignment, organised by USAID, represents the first part of a 165-mt emergency aid delivery. It included plastic sheeting, blankets, jerry cans, water purification equipment and medical kits, the officials said.

The supplies, which arrived in Goma on Sunday, would be distributed through the UN Children's Fund and its partner NGOs, they said.

The estimated 55,000 IDPs fled south when fighting between Hema and Lendu militias erupted at the beginning of May in and around Bunia, the capital of Ituri District. The IDPs are now camped in a zone around the town of Beni, in North Kivu Province.

Meanwhile, fighting continued Thursday around the town of Lubero, 70 km south of Beni. The UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, appealed to the belligerents - the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Goma and the RCD-Kisangani-Mouvement de Liberation to disengage and withdraw their forces from the area.

The appeal came as the government and the two movements were due to meet Thursday in Bujumbura, Burundi, under the mediation of the UN Secretary-General's special representative, Amos Namanga Ngongi, to try to end the fighting.

"We would like to withdraw our soldiers but those who have helped people to attack us, government troops and the Interahamwe must first draw back," Adolphe Onusumba, the RCD-Goma president, told IRIN.

The Interahamwe are Rwandan Hutu militiamen who fled to the DRC after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

DRC Defence Minister Irung Awan told IRIN there were no government troops around Lubero.

"There is no reason for us to have troops there," he said. "It is the RCD-K/ML that has forces there to try to end a difficult situation brought about by RCD-Goma and Rwanda which are looking to occupy this portion of Congolese territory."

Rwandan army spokesman Maj Jill Rutaremara has denied involvement in the fighting saying, "Rwanda has not had any troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo since last year."

Theme(s): (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs



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