- In a bid to cope with tragic situation in north and south Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, International Confederation of Red Cross (ICRC) has nearly doubled aid to people affected by internal armed conflict in the region.
Head of ICRC's economic security unit in DRC, Ian Byram, says two types of economic assistance programmes are being implemented to address people's needs.
According to a report issued today by ICRC, first is an emergency scheme to supply food and other essential items to displaced people, host families in areas affected by the conflict, and people returning to their homes following displacement. Then there is the longer-term programme that involves projects to restore or increase food production.
"Over 15,200 families have received such support, including seed, since the beginning of the year," the report says.
It further shows that, "we allocate our resources according to need, and recipients are always victims of armed violence. In emergencies, such as one in eastern DRC, our priorities include distributing relief to civilians, who are often lacking basic necessities for survival. That's why we've had to increase our budget and with it, our ability to respond to emergencies."
The budget is primarily used to distribute food, seed and other essential supplies, depending on their needs, affected civilians receive kits containing items such as blankets, jerry-cans, buckets, clothing, mats, soap and a hoe, the report notes.
"If we find that civilians need food, we also try to provide corn, oil and beans. At a later stage, when people are finally able to return to their villages, we do our best to ease resettlement process. We also assist families who are hosting displaced persons, since population movements place great strain on resources of local communities," it says.
ICRC indicates that there is still no standard response to an emergency, adding that it is important to find out main problems facing population concerned before responding.
Numerous other humanitarian agencies are currently working in the DRC, especially in north Kivu and coordination with ICRC is said to be proceeding well.
The ICRC is facing two major problems; the ones that sometimes deny it access to people in need, poor security and dreadful state of roads.
"Although we sometimes have to cut short an operation and leave, we always do our best to return once access has improved, as we did in Masisi, for example, a few weeks after the initial attempt failed. After all, we have made a commitment to the people we've registered," the report says.
Red Cross volunteers are said to be helping with family registration and work hand in hand during the distributions themselves.
The impact of the food crisis is reportedly reflected in field surveys. The rising price of certain basic products is placing an additional burden on the population, which is already extremely vulnerable as a result of the conflict.
The report further indicates that not even local farmers can benefit from these increases since they have to contend with rising petrol prices and increasing difficulty with access to land and markets owing to worsening security situation.
"ICRC has made a financial and moral commitment to continue distributing food in the areas affected by the conflict. Despite rising food prices, we have no intention of scaling down our work," it concludes.
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