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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 29 November 2012

Boost in European support for the people most affected by recent violence in Eastern Congo

Responding to the urgent needs of the Congolese population, the European Commission has requested from the European Union's budgetary authorities approval for the release of € 15 million to increase its humanitarian aid for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region. The recent escalation in fighting between the armed forces and the March 23 Movement (M23) has dramatically worsened the humanitarian situation in the region and put tens of thousands of people at risk.

"When I travelled to Goma and the Kivus earlier this year, I met many Congolese people whose lives have been destroyed by the conflict. It is heart-breaking to see violence escalating again in Eastern Congo, threatening tens of thousands of people. We need to help alleviate their suffering,” said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Civil Protection and Crisis Response.

The new funding will bring the total humanitarian aid from the Commission to DRC to almost €80 million this year.

There are 2.4 million internally displaced people within the country with over 650,000 people displaced in eastern DRC since April 2012. Humanitarian aid is essential for their survival.

The new funding will help over 700.000 people in urgent need. The priority is immediate life-saving activities such as cholera control, distribution of essential food and non-food items, shelter, health provision and protection.

Commissioner Georgieva added: “The escalating conflict is limiting our access to vulnerable populations. I call on all parties, including neighbouring countries, to allow humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance in a timely and impartial manner. This is crucial for saving lives in Africa’s second largest country.”

European support includes a humanitarian air service with three planes. This year a helicopter was deployed to reach the displaced people in the most inaccessible areas. Since August 2012, the helicopter has transported 647 passengers and 28 tonnes of humanitarian cargo. It has also been evacuating humanitarian organisations' staff from different localities of North Kivu and will continue intervening for evacuation and for transport of essential relief items as needed.

Background

Heavy fighting between M23 rebels and government forces (FARDC) in Eastern DRC broke out on 15 November, ending a virtual truce that had lasted on the frontlines for nearly three months. M23 has entered Goma on 20 November and controls now the city of 800,000 people and a key operational hub for humanitarian organisations throughout North Kivu.

Due to the fighting the airport has been captured and a main electricity line was cut, leaving large areas of Goma without water and electricity. On 21 November M23 has taken control of Sake about 20 km west of Goma and continues to proceed towards Minova in South Kivu.

One of the main concerns of humanitarian agencies in the region relates to estimated 120,000 displaced people around Goma including almost 80,000 IDPs from the camp of Kanyaruchinya, 15km north of Goma. Many seek shelter in schools, churches and public places; others are homeless in the streets. There are already reports of cholera outbreak since the epidemic was on-going in the camp of Kanyaruchinya. Vulnerable people are in need of food, water and shelter. Displaced children face an increased risk of abuse, rape and recruitment.

Humanitarian experts from the European Commission monitor and cover with humanitarian assistance four out of the 11 Provinces in the DRC from Goma, Bukavu, Bunia and Kinshasa offices.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's Twitter and Facebook account:

https://twitter.com/kgeorgievaeu

www.facebook.com/KristalinaGeorgieva

Contacts :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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