A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
International agency Oxfam today (21 January 2009) expressed its fears for the safety of civilians as fresh fighting loomed in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese and Rwandan armies and CNDP rebel troops are set to disarm another rebel group, the FDLR.
Juliette Prodhan, Head of Oxfam in the Democratic Republic of Congo said:
“The impact the fighting may have on the estimated 600,000 people living in rebel-controlled areas is deeply concerning. Fighting three months ago, saw a quarter of a million people flee from their homes, and civilians killed, raped, and looted by all armed groups. This new twist in Congo’s violence has the potential to result in similar abuse and could significantly swell the one million people already displaced.
“The UN peacekeeping force is already overstretched and the 3,000 extra troops promised months ago have yet to arrive. MONUC was not able to keep civilians safe when the violence escalated last year and, without reinforcements, it is unclear that it will be able to now.
“Unfortunately for the long-suffering people of Congo, the humanitarian crisis could well get worse.”