October 25

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Co-Ordination Saves Lives*

“Co-Ordination Saves Lives”*

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*United Nations Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

Sub-Office in Bukavu (www.unocha.org)

Once a week, I attend a humanitarian meeting at the United Nations Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). OCHA plays a key role in the co-ordination of humanitarian action to alleviate human suffering and ensures a coherent approach across the region. During the meeting we share our knowledge on a wide range of issues, not only about internal displacement and environmental emergencies, but also about health, education,  protection, food security… Natural disasters and disease epidemics are characteristic elements of the humanitarian environment of South Kivu, and the continued military activities and tensions between local communities have compounded the situation. Co-ordination is vital!

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The humanitarian issues in the region are numerous, and many of these issues are interconnected. A typical week’s report could look a bit like this:

Huge Population Movements:

  • The number of internally displaced persons (IPDs) in South Kivu is currently reported to be 591,627 (October 22nd, 2013).
  • The territory of Kalehe alone has 221,269 IDPs. On average, around 1,200 people have been displaced from their homes every day since the beginning of 2013.
  • Between July and September 2013, a total of 66,350 new IDPs were reported in South Kivu.
  • Between June and September 2013, approximately 35,000 IDPs returned to their homes in Kalehe, Mwenga, Fizi and Shabunda.
  • In the territory of Mwenga, most population movements took place between April and June, 2013. Nearly 50% of the 73,140 IDPs have been taken in by host families.

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Major Health Challenges:

  • Cholera is of major concern in the region due to the onset of the rainy season. In recent weeks there has been a significant increase in the number of cholera cases reported. The most affected territories include Uvira, Minova, Fizi, Kabare, Ibanda Miti Murhesa, Kadutu, Katana, Bagira and Nyantende.
  • To put this into perspective, during 2012, 4,080 cases of cholera were reported in South Kivu. Currently, 4,800 cases have already been reported in the region and many more are expected by the end of the year.

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Educational Support:

  • Food and school supplies have been distributed to nearly 1,520 displaced and other vulnerable families in the territory of Fizi. These families were displaced in August 2013 following clashes between the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) and Raïa Mutomboki at Kasugulu (Shabunda) on the border with Fizi.
  • School supplies have been provided to more than 24,400 vulnerable students in the territory of Uvira.

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Natural Disasters:

  • More than 40,000 people have already been affected by natural disasters (October 2013).
  • Bad weather and rain damage has destroyed houses and schools in several regions:

Minova – 9 houses and 1 school damaged

Mulela – 126 houses and 5 schools and one health centre damaged

Butumba – 35 houses damaged

Kishinyi – 49 houses damaged

Idjwe Island – one primary school for 350 children was badly damaged by flooding

  • Strong winds hit Muhumba and Musimbo in the territory of Walungu on October 14th. More than 70 houses were damaged and at least 10 houses were completely destroyed. Around 30 cassava fields have been devastated. Temporary shelters and basic household items are urgently needed.

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Improved Protection:

  • Protection activities aim to improve population security by recuperating land that has been contaminated by explosives and by establishing more secure living conditions.
  • Fourteen explosive devices have been destroyed and hazardous areas have been identified and marked in the region of Fizi. To reduce potential accidents, more than 540 residents and IDPs have been made aware of the risks of mines and other explosive devices in the area.

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Food Security:

  • In partnership with the World Food Programme, one month’s supply of food (83 tonnes) has been distributed to 890 host families, IDPs and other vulnerable families in Kalama and Kilungutwe in the territory of Mwenga. Distribution to an additional 3,000 host and vulnerable families is planned.

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Military Activities:

  • Clashes between armed groups and Nyatura Raïa Mutomboki Kashovu on the border between North and South Kivu have affected the protection of civilians in the area of Kalehe, South Kivu. Since October 15th, several houses have been burned, and a number of people have been displaced towards South Kivu. Given the ethnic sensitivities in the region, an escalation of sectarian violence is feared.
  • Between July and September 2013, there was a reduction in the activities of the military group, Raïa Mutomboki Mwenga. Since October 6th, two rival factions of Raïa Mutomboki militia have clashed, forcing the local population to take refuge in the surrounding forest. An increase in malaria cases has been reported in Shabunda due to the instability in the area.
  • Regular clashes continue between the FARDC and FNL and their allies; Mayi Mayi are active in South South Province; FDLR have carried out attacks in Walungu…Population movements are occurring due to the fighting and security incidents, including rape, kidnapping and looting, by armed men have been reported by the civilian population.

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Local Security Incidents:

  • Two men have been abducted from the field by unidentified armed men. This brings the total to six abductions by armed groups in the last two weeks.
  • A woman has been shot by an armed man in military clothing.
  • The body of a man has been found in the grounds of a local school.
  • Criminal elements are operating locally. Walking alone at night should be avoided…

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There are so many challenges for living in the DRC and yet so many organisations from all over the world are continuing to support and invest here. There is always hope…one day these efforts will be sustainable!

Reference:

                                                                          Map: Souh Kivu: Risk of Natural Disasters (A4 format) []

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http://www.rdc-humanitaire.net/index.php/rapports/hebdomadaires/