Sunday, February 26, 2006

38,000 people die every month in Congo's continuing conflict: ICG

Source: Xinhua People's Daily Online 26 Feb 2006:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains a humanitarian disaster despite the presence of UN troops and the recent approval of a new constitution that paved the way for elections in April, said a report from a think tank on Saturday.

As many as 38,000 people continue to die every month as a result of the ongoing conflict in the central African country, while the world's attention has been focused instead on the conflicts in Sudan's Darfur region and Cote d'Ivoire said the latest report issued from the Washington-based International Crisis Group.

Most of the deaths result from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases such as fever, malaria and diarrhea, which turn deadly because insecurity restricts access to basic infrastructure and sanitation, it said.

The report said poor relations between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda have heightened tensions and made resolution of the respective conflicts more difficult.

The DRC still hosts many militia groups often backed by outside powers and interests, and its mineral wealth and weak border controls have allowed many of these to become self-sustaining. The economy is in tatters, and ethnic and regional fault-lines are both many and deep, it said.

Insecurity is prevalent throughout the country, with the population destitute and exposed to high rates of crime. In many larger towns and cities, protests and riots may erupt in response to the failure of the transitional government, which came to being in July 2003, when Joseph Kabila remained the president, joined by four vice-presidents representing the former government, former rebel groups and the political opposition, according to the report.

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