DR.Congo in one of world's 'worst humanitarian crises': UN

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Democratic Republic of Congo is going through "one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world," the UN said Friday, noting that relief agencies were facing not only violence in the country, but also a funding shortfall.

"The country is confronted with one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Violence by armed groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army is "growing unceasingly", she said.

"Working in the DRC has become a real challenge for aid workers due to security reasons and a lack of funding," added the spokeswoman.

The United Nations warned on June 4 that a "catastrophic" shortfall in aid for the country could cut off vital health and food assistance for hundreds of thousands of people.

The UN has received only 30 percent of its appeal for 827 million dollars for the country.

"If the financial aid does not arrive, we will be obliged to reduce aid for a population which desperately needs it," said Byrs.

"The fights, clashes and banditry are not just affecting civilians," said Byrs, pointing out that aid workers were also regularly attacked.

Insecurity is most prevalent in the northern and eastern parts of the country -- Orientale, Kivu, and Equateur provinces, she said.

In the Orientale province, the LRA has killed 1,796 civilians and kidnapped 2,377 people including 807 children since December 2007.

The Ugandan rebels "terrorised the population, attacked, pillaged, burnt villages, kidnapped civilians -- notably children," said Byrs.

The spokeswoman also pointed to sexual violence in the Kivu provinces, saying that on average, 160 women are raped every week, mostly by armed men.

Identical problems were cited for the Equateur region, with humanitarian access to parts of the province affected by "persisting volatile security conditions".

© 2010 AFP

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