Christian relief organizations are distributing relief aid to thousands of people displaced by fighting in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. With support from World Vision Hong Kong, the German Government and the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), World Vision has distributed kits of non-food items to 6,000 families in the war-torn North and South Kivu Provinces.
According to the latest reports, much of eastern Congo remains unstable, frequently wracked by fighting between various armed factions and tribal groups despite the presence of about 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers.
Although a cease-fire was negotiated in 1999, regular outbreaks of violence occur. Thousands rioted in several Congolese cities in June after the thinly stretched U.N. peacekeepers failed to protect residents of the eastern town of Bukavu from an attack by renegade government forces.
World Vision reports that the crisis in Bukavu affected civilians in various ways. One woman, who fled her home in the town of Miti, 16 miles north of Bukavu, during the fighting, said "When we came back from our displacement, I and my family found our house empty."
Her husband, a carpenter, had nothing to work with after his wood saw was looted along with other goods in their home. However, with the help of relief items distributed by World Vision the couple is reportedly getting through so they can look after their eight children.
The kits that World Vision has distributed to the 6,000 families in the region have included blankets, soap, cooking pots, jerry cans, buckets and a bag. In addition to this donation, World Vision has also distributed seeds and tools, provided by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to communities in Bukavu-Minova.
To help those affected by the conflict deal with its aftermath, World Vision is also running a psycho-social program in South Kivu Province.
According to sources, the Congo, which is roughly the size of Western Europe, has known little but corrupt governance and war since its 1960 independence from Belgium. It is one of the world's poorest nations despite having vast mineral wealth.
The vast Congo, known as Zaire, has seen some of the worst violence in Africa during a civil war that began in 1998. Some three million people died during the war, most of them from disease and hunger.