22 March 2005

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Calls on Democratic Republic of Congo Authorities to Assume Their Responsibilities Towards Congolese Population

GENEVA, 21 March (OCHA) -- The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, called upon the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assume its responsibilities towards the Congolese people.

Mr. Egeland expressed his deep concern at the deteriorating security situation in the east of the country, and the effect that this was having on the lives of ordinary Congolese people.

“Over 88,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Ituri since the beginning of 2005”, said Mr. Egeland.  “These people have been victims of rape, torture, kidnappings, lootings and other human rights exactions, committed in a general climate of impunity.”

Calling the situation in Ituri a “full-scale humanitarian crisis”, Mr. Egeland praised the courage of humanitarian workers bringing vital relief to the displaced people in Ituri.  “Humanitarian organisations are saving lives in this area on a daily basis, despite an increasingly difficult security situation.  I call upon the Transitional Government to support the humanitarian community in every possible way.”

Commenting on the increasing levels of disorder in the Province of south Kivu, Mr. Egeland noted with dismay the involvement of the Congolese armed forces, FARDC, in the harassment of the local population.  “FARDC soldiers were sent to south Kivu to protect the civilian population and their goods.  Instead are they are targeting vulnerable local people, forcing them to hand over food, blankets and other household supplies”, he said.

“Lack of logistical support and the non-payment of military salaries have meant that these soldiers are forced to live off the very population they have been sent to protect”, Mr. Egeland said.  “The Transitional Government must ensure that its soldiers in the field receive some form of salary, so that this harassment can stop.”

Elsewhere in the country humanitarian organisations themselves are being harassed by local authorities.  “Local Congolese authorities are confiscating humanitarian vehicles, demanding illegal taxes and generally tying up humanitarian organisations with administrative matters.  This is preventing crucial assistance from reaching the local population”, he said.  “The Transitional Government must send a strong message to their provincial representatives that such harassment must immediately cease.”

Over 30,000 people continue to die each month of preventable causes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite the signing of a peace accord between the main rebel groups, and the installation of a Transitional Government in June 2003.

For further information, please contact:  Rachel Scott Leflaive,
Public Information, OCHA, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
e-mail:, tel.:  +243 81 98 60 444.

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