DRC CARE provides emergency supplies

GOMA, DR CONGO (November 3, 2008) – While a fragile ceasefire holds, CARE is distributing emergency supplies and providing cholera treatment for some of the thousands of people who are still taking refuge in Goma city. The leader of the rebel group has said he will guarantee safe passage for aid agencies trying to reach the more than 250,000 people who fled their homes after heavy fighting between rebels and the army last week.

CARE is initially targeting 1,700 people still taking refuge in churches, open spaces and schools in Goma town, who have no access to drinking water, shelter, food or medical support. The emergency supplies include hygiene items, blankets, kitchen supplies and plastic sheeting.

“Aid agencies and the UN are starting to reach the people who are going back to the temporary camps outside the city, but the mayor of Goma made a desperate appeal to please help the displaced people who are left behind and unable to leave the city,” said Sebastien Pennes, Assistant Country Director for CARE in DR Congo.

CARE is also coordinating with the medical aid agency Merlin to establish a temporary cholera treatment centre, after cases were reported among the displaced people in Goma town.

“The displaced people came with cholera, and they are spreading it around,” said Pennes. “We don’t know the extent of the outbreak. The general hospital doesn’t have the capacity to respond. This is not an epidemic, but it is first stage of an outbreak and it is crucial to respond immediately.”

Information is still patchy outside of the city limits, with reports of lootings, rapes and burning of temporary camps. CARE is calling for the international community to immediately ensure that the UN Peacekeeping Force in Congo (MONUC) is able and properly equipped to protect civilians, and that aid can reach the affected populations.

The next phase of CARE’s emergency response will focus on areas around Goma, where CARE has long implemented development and health programs in the poorest communities.

About CARE: CARE is one of the world’s largest independent aid organizations providing emergency relief and development projects in nearly 70 countries around the world. CARE has been working in the DRC since 2002, providing programs in the areas of health and nutrition, livelihoods, environmental protection, and good governance.

Media Contact: To arrange interviews with staff in DRC, please contact:
Melanie Brooks, [email protected]; mobile +41.795.903.047 (Nairobi)
Lurma Rackley, [email protected]; mobile +1 404 394 8298 (Atlanta, USA)