UN agency mission finds serious humanitarian needs in east of DR of the Congo

31 October 2003

A recent assessment by United Nations relief agencies has found widespread humanitarian needs in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

In a statement issued in New York, OCHA said the assessment mission spent five days last week visiting the region from Uvira to Fizi in South Kivu province, in the east of the DRC.

The mission was conducted by OCHA, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

It reported that the priorities for help were protection and security, water, health and food security.

The mission found that while residents of the region felt a greater sense of security, they were still apprehensive about hostilities resuming, given the range of armed groups that were present.

Many residents were reluctant to resume cultivation of their fields, despite the fertile conditions, because of fears that any crops would be stolen by armed groups. As a result, the mission found malnutrition was "clearly visible," according to OCHA's statement.

The mission's final report is due to be issued next week. A coordination meeting between UN agencies and non-governmental organizations will follow to determine what action should be taken.

Also in New York today, a UN spokesperson said that the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) reported that fighting has broken out near the town of Tchomia, southeast of Bunia, in the Lake Albert region.

MONUC reported that combatants from the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) attacked members of PUSIC, a splinter group. MONUC then air-dropped a company into the area and reported it had brought the situation under control. Thirty UPC combatants have since been detained for further investigation.


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