Cholera is spreading among tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in parts of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations has said, warning of a “precarious” situation also involving looting by members of the armed forces.
“Up to 20,000 on the Sake – Goma and Sake – Minova routes have been displaced, but have regained their homes following a stabilization of the security situation,” said spokesperson Kemal Saiki from the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) at yesterday’s weekly press briefing.
“Opportunistic elements of the FARDC (Armed Forces of DRC) took the opportunity to loot and take over the abandoned homes. This situation remains precarious close to Sake, where cholera has spread due to lack of drinking water, and where certain residents have still not retaken their homes.”
There are more than 550,000 IDPs in North Kivu province in total, according to estimates from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP), and local authorities and aid organizations.
MONUC also said that new displacements had occurred close to Sake after last week’s fighting between the FARDC and General Laurent Nkunda’s dissident 81st and 83rd brigades.
Mr. Saiki said that humanitarian assistance had not yet reached Sake because organizations feared extortion from undisciplined elements of the FARDC, although aid groups working with MONUC have put plans in place in the more stable areas in case the situation in North Kivu gets worse.
Separately, the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration programme continues in the DRC, notably in Ituri, North Kivu and Katanga, as the country – which this year held landmark elections – moves to rebuild after a disastrous six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease, widely considered the most lethal conflict in the world since World War II.