DR Congo: Violence heightens cholera threat

The rebel capture of the town of Rutshuru in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo forced the suspension of efforts to combat a deadly cholera outbreak.

World Vision staff evacuated from the region, and projects to counter cholera have been temporarily halted, including the rehabilitation of water points, hygiene training, water purification, and latrine construction.

Mickael Le Paih, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders, says that fighting in the region is preventing the sick getting treatment for cholera.

“Some roads are blocked or unsafe, and it is difficult for people to access health facilities,” he says.

Lilian Kamonjo, World Vision’s acting operations manager for the Congo, says World Vision is anxious to secure security clearance to return to the area.

“People are in dire need of assistance, and we need to get in there as soon as possible to provide it,” she says. The organisation expects to resume working in the area in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Goma has seen a build up of government and U.N. troops in response to the insecurity in North Kivu.

The rebel soldiers took up arms in April after defecting from the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, complaining of poor conditions.

They named themselves M23 after a failed peace agreement that was signed three years ago on March 23.

Robert Kisyula, World Vision's national director for the Congo, says fighting between armed groups in eastern Congo is exacerbating humanitarian needs, particularly among the 2 million civilians forced to flee their homes.

“The humanitarian situation will be enormous this year without a greater funding commitment to meet the planned and unplanned needs,” he says.

With reporting by Lawrence Mtimaunenenji, a World Vision regional communications officer based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.