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WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced

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  • WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced

    WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced
    Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced


    The World Health Organization fears the escalating conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province will have major health consequences in terms of violence-related injuries for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to flee the fighting.

    Controlling the spread of communicable diseases and ensuring access to safe food and water are key concerns.

    "WHO has medicines and staff in the country ready to assist in the response to the health crises," Dr Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for WHO's Health Action in Crises Cluster.

    "We are closely monitoring the situation and we urge parties to the conflict to not target health facilities and those delivering health care to the population."

    During recent months, violence in eastern DRC had displaced 200 000 people and tens of thousands more have been forced to flee during the recent escalation.

    WHO has offices in the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma and in neighbouring South Kivu's main city, Bukavu.

    WHO staff in the national capital, Kinshasa, are on standby to assist.

    More than 30 000 internally displaced people have arrived at a temporary accommodation camp established by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Kibati 10 kilometres north of Goma.

    Hundreds more people have been fleeing insecurity into neighbouring countries, including Uganda.

    The displaced have been forced on marches in areas where health facilities do not exist.

    Ensuring the provision of clean water and safe food, as well as appropriate sanitation facilities, are essential measures to take to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases, including cholera and measles.

    Recent WHO figures showed that there had been at least 330 confirmed cases of cholera reported in North and South Kivu provinces during the past week.

    Eleven cases of measles have also been reported in the conflict area.

    WHO is working with UN and other health partners to support the health needs of the displaced population, and will continue to support national and regional health authorities.
    <cite cite="">WHO | Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced</cite>

  • #2
    Re: WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced

    DRC: Eric - ?There?s real panic in town?

    GOMA, 29 October 2008 (IRIN) - As government forces and UN peacekeepers strive to stop rebel troops moving into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Goma, one resident Eric, 28, who sells motorbikes for a living, told IRIN he was torn between fleeing and protecting his business.

    ?There?s real panic in town, the panic is there. Everyone in Goma is running to their houses. I saw the government troops retreating into town. It?s been very tense today, yesterday and the day before.

    ?There is more evidence that the enemy [forces from neighbouring Rwanda, which is accused of supporting rebel general Laurent Nkunda, a charge Kigali denies] are Rwanda are coming into DRC go that?s why I am fleeing now.

    ?I think that Nkunda is near. I think the population, everybody, is really scared at the moment. People are running all over the place in every direction. At the moment we don?t really know what?s going on but it is better to go away than stay.

    ?I am also very worried about my business here but because there is a feeling there might be looting tonight. All my colleagues have already left and are telling me to go too. My family are very scared. My wife called me today telling me to cross the border to Rwanda to be where I can be safe. I am really hoping that Goma can stay safe.?



    • #3
      Re: WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced

      ZAMBIA: Border closed to DRC refugees

      <TABLE style="BORDER-BOTTOM: #bbbbbb 1px solid; BORDER-LEFT: #cccccc 1px solid; PADDING-BOTTOM: 5px; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #eeeeee; MARGIN: 2px 5px 8px 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px; WIDTH: 120px; PADDING-RIGHT: 5px; BORDER-TOP: #cccccc 1px solid; BORDER-RIGHT: #bbbbbb 1px solid; PADDING-TOP: 5px" border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=left><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 3px" align=right>
      Photo: IRIN </TD></TR><TR><TD style="FONT-FAMILY: Tahoma; FONT-SIZE: 7pt" class=ImgCreditCaption>Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
      LUSAKA, 29 October 2008 (IRIN) - The Zambian government has closed its border to any refugees arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as fighting intensifies in the east of the country.

      "We have been following closely the violence in DRC. I have already ordered the immigration officers to be on extra alert at Kasumbalesa [the border post]," Susan Sikaneta, permanent secretary in the interior ministry, told IRIN.

      However, the clampdown appears to be more related to public health concerns than security threats, after the death last month of a Zambian tourism operator in a South African hospital from a previously unknown strain of hemorrhagic fever.

      "We are not allowing any refugee to cross into Zambia at the moment because of the incidence of these mysterious diseases," Sikaneta said. There is sensitivity in Zambia over the origin of the new strain of the Arena virus, which has been linked to the deaths of at least three people in South Africa.

      "If they [refugees] come in, we are immediately sending them back, because their entering the country could be a recipe for these fears of mysterious diseases becoming real," Sikaneta said. In the public imagination the DRC is believed to be the source of the Ebola virus, a highly virulent hemorrhagic fever.

      Zambia has been home to thousands of Congolese refugees over the years of conflict in the Great Lakes region. Between May and December 2007, a total of 7,325 Congolese were voluntarily repatriated.

      The exercise has continued in 2008, with a total of 8,038 returning home since May, and is expected to run into 2009, according to Fernando Protti-Alvarado, the deputy country representative of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Zambia.

      "The voluntary repatriation of refugees from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo has not been affected by the recent reported fighting in the Kivus [North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC]. This is because most of the Congolese refugees repatriating from Zambia have been returning to the southern fringes of DRC, namely, Katanga Province," Protti-Alvarado told IRIN.

      "In view of the long distance from Zambia to where fighting is reported to be occurring in DRC, no significant influxes of refugees have been reported. UNHCR is always prepared; however, we don't expect any major influx into Zambia at this particular time."

      Government forces and UN peacekeepers have been battling to halt an advance by rebel troops on the eastern DRC town of Goma, which has triggered an exodus of civilians.



      • #4
        Re: WHO: Escalating DRC conflict raises health risks for thousands of displaced

        Thousands Flee as Fighting Intensifies in Eastern Congo

        October 28, 2008

        Country: DR Congo

        Topics: Emergencies, Water

        <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=349><TBODY><TR><TD></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#a8a186></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#dedcca></TD></TR><TR><TD></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
        Hundreds of displaced people wait for water from Mercy Corps' tanker truck (in background). Photo: Mercy Corps DRC

        As ferocious fighting engulfs parts of eastern Congo, Mercy Corps is supplying displaced families with the most critical resource of all: clean, fresh water. Your support can help us ensure that supplies and basic services continue to reach these families as an already desperate situation worsens.
        New attacks by rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have displaced enormous numbers of people over the past several days. More than 200,000 have fled the fighting and sought refuge in communities and displacement camps near the besieged city of Goma.
        Mercy Corps is playing a key role in the emergency response efforts by providing lifesaving water, sanitation and other services to those forced from their villages and homes.
        On October 28, we delivered more than 200,000 liters of potable water to the community of Kibati, where the majority of newly displaced families have sought refuge from the fighting.

        "The situation is becoming critical. We have over 200,000 newly displaced persons, in addition to the 850,000 that were already displaced in the areas around Goma. The water and sanitation needs are enormous, but we're trucking potable water to people who desperately need it," said Matt Gribbin, Mercy Corps' program coordinator in Congo.

        Unfortunately, the situation is likely to worsen. More battles are expected over the coming days, and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force is already stretched to the limit. Massive numbers of people continue to flee conflict zones, seeking refuge in swelling displacement camps and with host families.

        "We are very concerned about the humanitarian situation. The population here had already reached its coping capacity before recent events, and now they are in dire need of support from the international community. Without resources for continued services, we expect a steep increase in malnutrition and diarrhea-related diseases," said Luke King, Mercy Corps' Country Director here in Congo. "Nevertheless, we'll continue to make strong efforts to respond to the needs of the population".

        Families in this part of Congo, who have endured the deadliest conflict since World War II, have already lost homes and loved ones. They are now trapped in communities and camps with violence raging all around them.

        Please help us speed water and other critical supplies to them in their time of greatest need.

        Your donations are needed to save lives, prevent worsening disease and build hope in a devastated environment.
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