Press Releases

    21 MARCH 2005

    Humanitarian Situation Deteriorating in Ituri District of Democratic Republic of Congo

    (Reissued as received.)

    BUNIA, 17 March (OCHA) -- The spate of violent attacks in Ituri District in recent days has left thousands more people homeless, many of whom are now seeking shelter in cramped makeshift camps in the area.

    “Continued attacks in Djugu Territory have doubled the number of displaced people seeking refuge in Gina, who now number over 25,000”, said Dr. Modibo Traoré, the Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Field Office in Bunia.  Gina is situated about 40 kilometres north of Bunia.  “On average, 100 new people are now seeking refuge in Tché camp on a daily basis”, he continued.

    “However, the main concern of the humanitarian community is the plight of the thousands of people who are still unaccounted for in the bush and in hard-to-reach areas”, Dr. Traoré explained.

    Humanitarians are concerned that the ever-increasing number of displaced people in the bush could lead to a serious epidemic.  “Five children aged from 0–5 years die every day in the overcrowded makeshift camps.  And the condition of those women and children still in the bush remains unknown”, Dr. Traoré added.

    Newly displaced persons are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including food, medical supplies and other vital items such as blankets, plastic sheeting and soap.  “These displaced people are also confronted with poor sanitary conditions.  Existing facilities have been overstretched by the recent population explosions in the camps”, Dr Traoré noted.

    According to Dr. Traoré, the already precarious humanitarian situation in Kakwa camp has been further compounded by an influx of refugees returning from Uganda.  “The refugees are now competing with the displaced for the limited resources in the area.”

    “The mass return of refugees from Uganda could be attributed to two main reasons:  the presence of United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) forces to provide security and the delivery of vital assistance by humanitarian organisations in Kakwa”, Dr. Traoré concluded.

    Over 88,000 people are now receiving humanitarian assistance in the Territory of Djugu, Ituri, after being forced to flee their homes when fighting broke out in the area late last year.

    For further information, please contact:  Rachel Scott Leflaive, Public Information, OCHA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, e-mail: , tel: +243 81 98 60 444; or Dr. Modibo Traoré, Head of OCHA Office, Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, e-mail: , tel: +243 81 32 75 000.

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