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DR Congo: UNICEF rushes aid to 10,000 people displaced by fresh fighting

22 December 2005 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has provided emergency relief items to over 10,000 newly displaced people in three camps north of Katanga province.

“This immediate emergency response has helped ensure that the vulnerable populations are able to cope with the present crisis with dignity,” UNICEF said of the supplies, including plastic sheeting, blankets, soap and cooking utensils, which have been distributed to the displaced families by the non-governmental organization (NGO) MSF-Holland.

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes earlier this month in fear of fresh militia attacks in the Katanga region, where the Congolese army, backed by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), is trying to oust militias that have tortured, raped and killed civilians across the eastern part of the vast country ever since a five-year civil war ended in 2002.

More than 10,000 displaced people are presently living in three camps managed by MSF-Holland in the district of Pweto. MSF reports indicate that about 300 to 400 newly displaced persons arrive in the camps every day, the majority of them women and children.

UNICEF’s medium-term emergency aid will cover additional essential supplies for primary health care and nutrition and assistance to local organizations working to reintegrate children released from armed groups into their communities, as well as providing educational supplies and materials for the displaced.

The UN World Food programme (WFP), working with the NGO Caritas, is urgently mobilizing food aid and said earlier this month that it needs $20 million in additional funding.

In another troubled part of eastern DRC, UN peacekeepers along with Congolese soldiers have been taking part in a joint operation against local armed groups in Ituri province, MONUC reported today.

Approximately 300 Nepalese peacekeepers and an Indian-piloted gunship have been providing support for more than 1,000 soldiers from the national army. In a firefight on Monday, in which two Nepalese platoons participated and an Indian gunship provided support, seven militia members were reportedly killed as well as one Congolese soldier.

The operation is aimed at rooting out armed groups in the Nioka areas, which is 75 kilometres northeast from Bunia, Ituri’s capital.


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