56,000 in eastern DR of Congo get emergency aid from UN relief agencies

14 February 2005

As people fleeing fighting between Lendu and Hema militias in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) gathered from Lake Albert northwards, humanitarian workers distributed emergency aid to 56,000 of them, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

"What we are seeing is a flare-up of existing violence in the area, forcing people to flee their homes towards safer areas. The humanitarian community is accustomed to responding to emergency situations in Ituri, but this is a larger-than-usual crisis with the additional challenge of a volatile security environment," said OCHA official Modibo Traoré in Bunia.

The continued fighting in the Territory of Djugu meant that the movement of humanitarian workers was restricted and they reached only the people around Lake Albert, as well as those people UN peacekeepers were protecting in Tché and Gina, and just north of Bunia in Muhito.

The joint Rapid Response Fund of OCHA and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) paid for essential items such as soap, blankets, cooking utensils and clothes to the internally displaced persons (IDPs), while the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food for up to one month. Other humanitarian groups contributed safe water, medical facilities, latrines and basic fishing equipment, OCHA said.

According to UN agencies, the current violence in the eastern DRC is part of one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has seen since World War II. Nearly 4 million people are reported to have died in the last six years, the vast majority of them civilians.


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