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Aid resumes for 88,000 displaced amid uneasy calm in Ituri - OCHA

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KINSHASA, 10 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - At least 88,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the war-torn district of Ituri, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are again receiving relief aid, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported on Wednesday.

"The death toll in the camps is back under control," Modibo Traore, OCHA's humanitarian affairs officer in Bunia, said in reference to an increase in mortality in IDP camps during a 10-day aid suspension that ended early this week. "However, the situation remains very tense in the area and the risk that vital aid may once again be cut off is very real."

Humanitarian actors have resumed aid to Kakwa, Tché and Gina IDP sites after they suspended services following the killing of nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers by militiamen on 26 February in Kafe village.

OCHA's information officer in the capital, Kinshasa, Rachel Scott Leflaive, said the number of IDPs in camps had risen from 70,000 to 88,000 in the last two weeks.

"The 18,000 newly registered people are probably persons who were hiding in the bush and now [have] moved to the camps," she said. "There is presently less militia activity and the militias do not harass the population as they used to."

In Gina area, the number of people seeking shelter has doubled over the last 10 days, according to an assessment made by aid workers on Monday. Resumption of aid to the more than 21,000 IDPs in camps in the Tché area started over the weekend, following an improvement in security conditions on the road north from Bunia town.

"There are very likely more people still hiding in the bush," Traore said. "We are receiving reports of people who are sick or injured, but too afraid to seek treatment. Humanitarians can only help those who can reach the safe areas."

Militia activities ceased after a military operation was carried out last week by UN peacekeepers in Loga, during which 60 militias were killed, Lt-Col Donique Demange, a spokesperson of the UN mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, told IRIN.

"Our forces reacted to attacks of militias while on a purely routine operation," he said. "We had precise information which indicated that the militias wanted to attack the MONUC camp at Tché."


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