29 November 2012
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Deputy Special Representative, United Nations Organization

Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo

Although the urgent, short-term humanitarian needs of people displaced around Goma were under control, long-term assistance remained uncertain, Mustapha Soumaré, Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) told journalists today by videoconference from Kinshasa.

The funds redirected and pooled by MONUSCO and its partners had averted an imminent humanitarian disaster, Mr. Soumaré said.  Basic water, food, hygiene and emergency health services had been brought to 110,000 people displaced around Goma.  Even if stability returned, however, people would require help restoring their lives, cultivating their farms, and repairing schools and medical centres. 

He pointed out that delivering humanitarian assistance was particularly challenging right now.  Those displaced were constantly on the move, the terrain was difficult and a tenuous security situation impeded service delivery.

He said around 130,000 displaced people had been identified in 12 spontaneous sites and schools around Goma, and some people, displaced before the recent violence, had been forced to flee again in the past ten days.  Those most difficult to access were at highest risk of water-borne illness, such as cholera.  MONUSCO was working to provide the necessary protections so that humanitarian groups could deliver assistance to those areas.

Calling attention to crises in other parts of the country, including other areas of North Kivu, he stressed that Goma was not the only place plagued by violence.  Beyond the M23’s direct impact, South Kivu was also “a theatre of increased armed group activity”, with major violence carried out on civilians.  As well, in the wake of the M23 crisis, around 70,000 people had fled to Uganda and Rwanda between April and October.

Until the underlying causes of the crisis had been addressed, he said, there was great potential for further violence, which could displace many more people.

A correspondent asked about reports of the M23 retreating from Goma.  There had been movement in that regards, Mr. Soumaré answered.  However, other rebel forces were present in the area.

Responding to a question about access to Goma and the surrounding area, he said, “Sometimes you identify a site and then you come back a few hours later and they aren’t there.”  He also added that MONUSCO was currently in negotiation with the M23 to gain access to the airport so that humanitarian aid could be flown in.  Further, MONUSCO was also working to deploy mobile health teams to displaced people.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record