afrol News, 1 May - The American aid agency International Rescue Committee (ICR) in a new study estimates that 2.5m people, nearly 5% of Congo Kinshasa's (DRC) population, have died since the war began. A new mortality survey found "a stunningly high death rate" in the war-affected areas.
The ICR is finalizing a report on mortality in war-torn eastern Congo Kinshasa. "Initial estimates point to a shocking number of deaths as a result of fighting since August 1998," according to a release made by the aid agency yesterday.
The IRC conducted a mortality survey in five provinces earlier this year and found that there has been an estimated 2.5 million deaths since the outbreak of fighting, in excess of the number that would have occurred using normal baseline mortality rates during this 32-month period.
- If anything, the situation is worse than last year, when our previous Congo mortality survey estimated the loss of 1.7 million lives, said epidemiologist Les Roberts, the IRC’s director of health policy and author of the study.
This year’s survey reexamines several areas studied last year and covers three new health zones. "Roberts found a stunningly high death rate in nearly all the areas surveyed - with extraordinary losses among children," the agency informs.
If the IRC's figures are right then nearly 5% of Congo Kinshasa's population have died during the war. This figure is much higher than what it would have been had there been no war. The IRC made its estimate after carrying out a survey in eight separate districts spread across the five provinces of eastern Congo.
The 2000 and 2001 surveys both indicate that the overwhelming majority of deaths were related to disease and malnutrition, while a proportionately smaller number were directly attributable to violence. Last year’s survey put the number of such deaths at 200,000.
The ongoing fighting has driven hundreds of thousands of people into forests, jungles and other remote areas, where they have no food, medicine or shelter. Health care systems in the region have been decimated and war-affected areas have been largely inaccessible to aid organizations because of the insecurity.
The surveyors randomly chose almost 3,000 homes and asked those living there how many deaths were there in the house over the past year. The IRC says that the American National Academy of Sciences has approved its methodology but it says the figures that are arrived at can only be estimates.
The International Rescue Committee states that it "hopes that the start of troop withdrawals from eastern Congo, the deployment of UN forces and the reinvigorated peace process will increase access to populations in need.".
Source: Based on International Rescue Committee