Humanitarian aid to thousands suspended in DR of Congo after attack on UN

People fleeing fighting in Bunia, DR of Congo

1 March 2005 – As deteriorating security prompted relief organizations to suspend medical and food aid distribution to more than 54,000 displaced people in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the chief of the United Nations mission there said the Government had arrested three people in connection with the murders of nine UN peacekeepers last week.

William Swing, chief of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said at a memorial service for the ambushed and murdered men that those arrested were two members of the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) militia – Floribert Njabu, its president, and Goda Supka – along with Germain Katanga from the Patriotic Resistance Forces, who was recently made a general in the country’s national army, the FARDC.

About 40,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were sheltering in and around Tché and Kakwa, the latter being the area in Ituri where the nine UN peacekeepers were killed. Another 14,000 had sought shelter with host families in Gina, north of the Ituri capital, Bunia, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“The deteriorating security situation in and around Kakwa, Tché and Gina no longer allows the distribution of food items or vital medical and water interventions for the IDPs,” OCHA’s Modibo Traore said in Bunia.

Since January fighting between rival militias has displaced more than 70,000 people in the Territory of Djugu in Ituri. Security has continued to deteriorate and humanitarian organizations are now able to access only three out of the six sites where the IDPs are sheltering.

In the Kakwa camp, people have been living in overcrowded conditions with limited sanitation and OCHA said it feared an outbreak of illnesses.

“The survival of these vulnerable people in terms of food, clean water and medical care depends entirely on continued humanitarian interventions by aid workers,” Mr. Traore said.

Meanwhile, Congolese refugees continued to make their way to western Uganda, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. With the arrival of 177 people on the Ugandan side of Lake Edward, the total entering Uganda from the DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri areas since January reached some 20,000.

Out of these 8,000 returned home to North Kivu despite fighting there between the Mayi-Mayi militia and the FARDC, UNHCR said.

All the remaining refugees have been offered shelter in UNHCR’s Kyaka II camp, with the trucking in of water being the chief concern in the drought-stricken area.

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