UN Official Says Humanitarian Crisis Continues in DRC

Posted June 4th, 2011 at 4:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A top United Nations humanitarian official says the international organization needs to “scale up” humanitarian aid, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just weeks after the central African nation asked peacekeepers to leave.

In a speech Saturday in the capital, Kinshasa, Catherine Bragg said some 600,000 Congolese are returning home after fleeing violence. But the assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs said 600,000 more Congolese have recently fled their homes due to attacks and insecurity.

Bragg said this new group of displaced people come largely from remote areas, where it is difficult for the U.N. and others to intervene, both because of the violence and because there simply are not roads.

Bragg's comments follow three days of visits across the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the U.N. official met with local communities and officials, U.N. personnel, aid groups, and international partners.

Bragg said she learned that relief efforts have been appreciated, but more needs to be done to develop the country, as well as to bring stability and security to conflict-torn regions.

She said DRC's government is ultimately responsible for maintaining stability and protecting its people, but that aid workers she saw asked for “stronger efforts” from the U.N., especially by increasing the reach of their operations.

Last month, the DRC asked the U.N. to withdraw its peacekeepers and allow the country to take over its own security, saying the country has made significant progress in reducing threats to the safety of citizens.

The U.N. Security Council acknowledged that overall peace and security has recently improved in Congo. But it said security challenges remain in several eastern and Orientale provinces.

There are currently 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Congo.