Over one million civilians, most of them women and children, have been displaced by fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North Kivu region is as high as 1.6 million according to some estimates.
Most are in a desperate situation, without sufficient food, water, medical supplies or shelter.
Fighting has continued in North Kivu despite a unilateral ceasefire declared by the armed group, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), on 29 October.
Amnesty International continues to receive reports of serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings of civilians, rape and forced recruitment, and of extensive looting in the conflict zones
Humanitarian agencies are doing their utmost to bring aid to displaced people, but are close to being overwhelmed by the scale of the suffering. Many IDPs remain inaccessible and some humanitarian operations are suspended because of the fragile security situation.
Amnesty International welcomes the UN SC resolution authorizing the reinforcement of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, but reminds international community that the human rights and humanitarian urgency in eastern DRC remains the same - every day of delay is costing lives. Urgent implementation of the resolution is needed.
Amnesty International calls upon states to make urgent contributions of troops and equipment to MONUC, with a view to having this equipment and personnel on the ground in the shortest possible time. EU states in particular should prioritize bilateral contributions to MONUC of equipment such as helicopters and transport aircraft, and specialist military units such as engineers and intelligence personnel, as well as infantry.
To help save lives in the DRC, the UNSC must make the protection of civilians a clear and robust priority for MONUC, and to devote the maximum possible of MONUC resources and efforts to this end.
NGOs call for UN session on the Democratic Republic of Congo (News story, 18 November 2008)
Photo: Displaced people in Kibati camp, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 2008. © UNHCR/P. Taggart