Oxfam: New depths of suffering in Democratic Republic of Congo
Millions of people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are now at the mercy of militias as the country’s long-running conflict descends into widespread lawlessness with killing, kidnapping and abuse against the population at alarming levels, international agency Oxfam today.
Local organizations Oxfam works with are reporting a steep increase in forced child recruitment, killing, looting and rape across the two eastern provinces of North and South Kivu due to a security vacuum and a proliferation of armed groups.
Rebel groups have taken control of vast swathes of the east, Oxfam said today, leaving a terrifying absence of state authority and security. Close to half a million people have fled their homes in the past four months and a humanitarian crisis has descended into “catastrophe”.
As regional leaders meet in Kampala, Uganda to seek a resolution to the conflict at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, Oxfam says that protection of civilians and a resolution to the regional dimensions of the conflict must be top of the agenda.
“We have reached a new depth of misery in Congo’s conflict when massacres go virtually unnoticed,” said Oxfam’s Associate Country Director Elodie Martel. “Vast swathes of the east have descended into chaos with no government or security presence. People have been abandoned to killing, rape, looting and extortion. They are fleeing for their lives and very little is being done to help.”
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