Armed escorts bad for humanitarian aid in Congo?

Submitted by jcravens42 on November 11, 2008 - 5:02pm.

Armed escorts bad for humanitarian aid in Congo?

"The international aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières has criticised the use of armed convoys in assisting relief operations as an 'inadequate response to the humanitarian crisis' in eastern Congo, where renewed fighting between rebels and pro-government militias has driven thousands from their homes. "

Full story from the Guardian

Submitted by jcravens42 on November 17, 2008 - 9:38am.

As civilians flee the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an increase in attacks on aid workers has left humanitarian organisations struggling to help them. One top UN official described large parts of the war-ravaged Nord-Kivu region as "black holes" where violence rages and masses of displaced people are on the move.

"We've got enough aid, but now the problem is access," said Christophe Illemassene, head spokesman for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kinshasa (OCHA).

The UN agency said there have been 21 attacks on aid workers in Nord-Kivu since the fighting resumed and now they are hesitating to go into some of the most affected areas.

"There are a lot of NGO's in Goma, but aid is not getting through to the worst affected zones, where they need it most," said Francois Dumont, an official with Medecins sans Frontieres.

Medical supplies had been pillaged from health centres in the surrounding area while others weren't receiving new supplies, just as cholera is spreading through the area, with some 1,000 cases recorded in Nord-Kivu in October.

But further south in the rebel-controlled territory between Goma and Ruthsuru, aid agencies are slowly restarting their work.

But it is around Goma, where there are tens of thousands of refugees, that most aid workers are operating, although a lack of security remains a problem.

the rest of the story

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Jayne Cravens
www.coyotecommunications.com/development/
Bonn, Germany

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