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Aid delivery to Katanga easier, UN mission says

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NAIROBI, 27 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Security has improved in the Democratic Republic of Congo's southeastern province of Katanga, allowing humanitarian groups to mobilise aid, the UN Mission in the country, known as MONUC, said on Monday.

However, operations have been suspended in the northeastern province of Orientale because of attacks by armed groups while in the southwestern province of Kasai-Occidental thousands of civilians are "fleeing raging ethnic conflict".

"Several reports suggesting growing armed robberies, rapes and other cases of sexual violence highlight the deterioration of the security conditions in and around Kananga [capital of Kasai-Occidental]," Patrice Bogna, the information focal point for MONUC's Humanitarian Affairs Section, said on Monday.

The fighting in recent days was mostly taking place near Luiza, about 250 km south of Kananga.

In Orientale, MONUC said the NGO Atlas Logistique temporarily suspended its rehabilitation of the 244-km Kisangani-Lubutu road because a Mayi-Mayi militia has been harassing some 2,000 people working for the NGO in the area.

However, Bogna said the security situation was improving in the north and south of Katanga Province.

"About 85 percent of civilians who fled the town of Katala, near Lubumbashi [the provincial capital] in February and March 2005 have reportedly returned to their respective homes," Bogna said.

He said the situation was now "favourable to humanitarian interventions" and that many UN aid agencies in Lubumbashi were stepping up their aid operations.

Agencies in Kalemie, in the north of Katanga, were also reassessing security conditions, following the "disengagement of Mayi-Mayi combatants from the 120-km Kalemie-Bendera road axis, an area they have occupied for the past five years", Bogna said.

In the eastern province of South Kivu, security had improved but urgent aid is lacking, Bogna said.

"The Budodo health centre has not been operational for the past months and the populations in Kanyola lack basic health care," he said.

Bogna also said, "The overall situation remains volatile and a number of civilians converge near military camps at night for safety."

Aid delivery in the volatile northeastern district of Ituri in Orientale also remained difficult, he said.


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