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Violence Levels Against Civilians in Eastern DRC Remains High

  • Kim Lewis

DRC family

DRC family

The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, recently released a statement saying over the past few weeks a very insecure atmosphere has descended upon the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Civilians in various communities are being subjected to indiscriminate and very violent attacks including murder and sexual assault, it said.

Annick Bouvier, an ICRC spokesperson in Kinshasa, said the attacks have increased strains between various communities.

“Our head of delegation is leaving the country after four years, and he mentioned that he regrets to be leaving without having witnessed any improvement in terms of respect for the lives and dignity of civilians in conflict zones, mainly in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Bouvier explained.

The continued violence – and shortage of supplies -- makes it difficult for doctors, surgeons and health care workers. In an effort to improve the situation, the ICRC organized a war-surgery seminar a couple of weeks ago. It was an opportunity for about 50 practitioners working in the main hospitals of North and South Kivu provinces to exchange best practices, and to gain more expertise on war surgery.

“The challenge for these practitioners is that they are very often, very limited with resources, and at the same time--complicated wounds. So during that seminar, it was the occasion to work on wound ballistics, but also mass casualty management, hygiene and bandaging techniques,” Bourvier further explained.

She said it’s difficult to reach people who have been displaced by violence. It is a daily challenge not only in terms of insecurity, but logistically as well. She said ICRC teams are doing everything they can on the ground to maintain its presence in local communities.