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Aid Group: Congo War Claims 1,000 Lives Each Day


More than 1,000 Congolese civilians are dying from war related disease and malnutrition every day, according to the International Rescue Committee. The international aid group released its report more than a year after the war officially ended.

Congo's conflict continues to produce appalling casualties, according to a mortality survey carried out by the International Rescue Committee, even though the war is officially over.

The organization says at least 31,000 civilians continue to die every month due to a festering conflict that has killed an estimated 3.8 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A five-year war that sucked in six other neighboring countries was officially declared over last year, but the International Rescue Committee says the conflict in Congo continues to be the deadliest crisis in the world and accuses the international community of failing to take action to stop it.

Dr. Richard Brennan, one of the authors of the study, said the number of people killed in Congo during the past six years was the equivalent to the population of the city of Los Angeles, or the whole of the country of Ireland.

Previous figures for Congo's conflict estimated that three million people had died, mostly from war-related hunger and disease, between 1998 and the official end of the war in 2003.

A transitional government has been set up and is due to lead the vast African nation to elections next June, but much of the east remains unstable and last month neighboring Rwanda threatened to attack rebels in Congo, fueling fears of a return to full-scale war.

The International Rescue Committee survey of 19,500 Congolese households found that almost half of those who died were children under the age of five. Virtually all of them were killed by disease and malnutrition resulting from a healthcare system destroyed by years of war. Because of the volatility in the east, emergency aid does not get delivered to many areas.

Calling the international community's response to Congo's crisis grossly inadequate in proportion to need, the International Rescue Committee said that improving security, increasing basic medical care, and providing immunization and clean water would save thousands of lives in Congo.