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ICRC aids displaced people in North Kivu

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International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - June 4, 2007

The upsurge in fighting and tension in recent months in several parts of North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo) has prompted the ICRC to prepare to launch an aid operation in behalf of some 2,000 to 2,500 displaced or returned families in the village of Kalembe within the next few days.

The ICRC is particularly concerned by criminal acts committed by various armed groups against civilians, including women and children. There have been frequent reports of rapes, looting and destruction of civilian objects. Such acts are serious violations of the basic rules of international humanitarian law and can have disastrous consequences, such as massive displacements of people within their own country.

Because of these displacements and the resulting losses in resources, the situation has become even more precarious in some resident and displaced communities – especially Kalembe, situated in a part of the Masisi territory where armed groups have clashed several times. Most Kalembe inhabitants have had to flee and take refuge in villages some 20 kilometres distant that are deemed safer.

A period of relative calm in the area has recently enabled some people to return to Kalembe, but most cannot afford to rebuild their houses or farm their land. The ICRC is therefore stepping in to help them get started again. From 6 to 8 June it will distribute basic supplies such as hoes, kitchen utensils and cloth.

In addition, the ICRC is engaged in constant dialogue with all parties to the conflict in order to remind them of their obligations under international humanitarian law and to attempt to put an end to violations. ICRC delegates also raise awareness among bearers of weapons – regular and irregular – of the basic rules of international humanitarian law, which include in particular the absolute obligation to spare civilians, to refrain from harming their physical well-being and to ensure that objects indispensable to their survival are spared the effects of the fighting.

To offset a lack of medicines and suitable medical care, the ICRC is also supporting 11 North Kivumedical facilities, including five hospitals. Some of these hospitals have received kits for treating war-wounded patients and have been given practical advice by an ICRC surgeon who provides support as needed.

For further information, please contact:

Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel :+41 22 730 22 71  or  +41 79 217 32 17
Danielle Larrabee, ICRC Goma, tel : +243 81 036 68 12
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Kinshasa, tel : +243 81 700 85 36
or visit our website: www.icrc.org




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