Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

Top UN aid official stresses need for civilian protection in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 9 March 2011
Cite as UN News Service, Top UN aid official stresses need for civilian protection in Democratic Republic of the Congo, 9 March 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d79c594c.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The United Nations humanitarian chief today voiced concern over violence against civilians in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) affected by conflict and stressed the need to continue to provide relief to those in need in the African country.

"The daily reality for many people in this province is immensely difficult," said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, while visiting the province of North Kivu.

"Armed men regularly attack villages, looting, raping, maiming, killing, kidnapping, and burning the villages before leaving," she said on her first working day of a two-day visit to the DRC.

"This forces entire communities to live in a perpetual flight mode, relying on humanitarian assistance for their survival," added Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

More than half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to relatively secure areas since 2009, but more other people have since been displaced elsewhere in North Kivu.

Sexual violence, mostly committed by armed groups, remains a serious problem in eastern DRC, with thousands of cases reported in North and South Kivu provinces every year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which Ms. Amos heads.

"Sexual violence is only one symptom of a much deeper problem. Entire communities are being deprived of their right to a dignified life," she said.

Insecurity in eastern and north-eastern DRC continues limit humanitarian work, according to OCHA. Last year, 200 incidents of insecurity affecting aid workers were recorded in the two provinces, compared to 179 during 2009.

"Humanitarian assistance can save lives and alleviate suffering, but the root causes of the crisis must be addressed," said Ms. Amos.

"Full support to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and efforts to end impunity for those committing these crimes must be stepped up," she added, expressing appreciation of the quick judicial response to mass rapes committed by members of the DRC military in January.

The provinces of North and South Kivu are affected by conflict between the national army and various foreign and local armed groups, including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which has its origins in Uganda.

The provinces currently host approximately 1.3 million (IDPs), an estimated 80 per cent of them living with host communities, according to figures provided by OCHA.

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