The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has flown eight metric tons of medical supplies to Bunia, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the survivors of recent fighting between rival ethnic groups.
CAFOD reported on Tuesday that it had also set up an emergency task force made up of Caritas Congo, Caritas Goma and Caritas Bunia. Caritas is the worldwide global network of Roman Catholic aid agencies.
The task force, CAFOD reported, was already working in a camp of 40,000 people in Muhito, 12.9 km north of Bunia and was planning to expand its operation to provide food and shelter for the thousands of displaced people who fled their homes recently. CAFOD said that people were slowly returning to their destroyed homes and were without food.
The NGO, which is the development agency of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said it had made an emergency grant of 25,000 pounds sterling (US $40,722) to the emergency.
Fighting between Lendu and Hema communities erupted in Bunia, the main town in Ituri District, just days after the Ugandan army pulled out of the northeastern town. Hundreds of people were killed in the ensuing fighting.
"Our partners say that there could be further mass killings if an international peacekeeping force is not deployed as soon as possible - it is literally a matter of life and death," Antonio Cabral, CAFOD's programme officer for the region, said.
A battalion of UN troops in Bunia was unable to stop the May killings. However, the UN Security Council approved on Friday the deployment of a multinational emergency force for the town. Several countries are weighing the possibility of contributing troops or other services to the force.
"The [UN] member states must provide the funding, the troops and the necessary logistical support to protect the people of the Congo not just in Bunia but throughout the whole country," Matthew Carter, CAFOD's head of emergencies, said.
[CAFOD item available on www.cafod.org.uk]
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