ICRC frets over lingering crises in DRC

Dec. 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM   |   Comments

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday the people returning to their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have an uphill battle.

Alessandra Menegon, head of the ICRC delegation in DRC, said a peace initiative reached between members of the rebel March 23 Movement and the DRC government meant refugees were returning to their homes.

"The people there are still facing serious problems arising from violence and the lack of healthcare, clean water and food," she said in a statement.

M23 is comprised of former rebels integrated into the DRC military who mutinied last year, saying the government reneged on a 2009 peace agreement. International aid consortium Oxfam said M23 is just one of the dozen or so armed gangs creating problems in eastern DRC.

The United Nations estimates fighting in DRC has displaced more than 100,000 and left more than 6.4 million dependent on international humanitarian assistance.

Rachel Bernhard, an ICRC representative working in eastern DRC, said unexploded ordnance remains a danger to DRC refugees.

"People are trying to get back to living normal lives, so they're going to be working in the fields, but it's very risky because of the explosive hazards that remain," she said.

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