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Red Cross speeds help for displaced people in Congo

  • Story Highlights
  • Agency says it's increasing aid efforts in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • It says clashes have made life harder for more than 300,000 displaced people
  • In response, Red Cross is asking donors for an additional $8 million
  • Agencies seek to reunite about 500 children separated from families amid fighting
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(CNN) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is increasing its humanitarian efforts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated since last fall.

The agency said Sunday that a lack of security resulting from clashes and military operations has worsened conditions for the more than 300,000 people estimated to have been displaced, and for their host communities in North Kivu.

In response, the Red Cross is asking donors for an additional $8 million, bringing this year's budget for the area's humanitarian needs to more than $55 million.

"The lack of security currently being experienced is mainly due to skirmishes between armed entities and attacks on the civilian population -- mainly in southern Lubero and in Masisi and Kalehe territories -- marked by a high number of violations of international humanitarian law," said Max Hadorn, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Kinshasa.

"The entire population is becoming increasingly vulnerable with each new wave of displacement, and some families have lost literally everything," he said. "But the worst is that they don't know what tomorrow will bring for them."

The international Red Cross and the Congo Red Cross predicted that, by the end of the year, 244,000 people will have been given essential household items, 80,000 people will have been given food, and 195,000 people will have been given seed and tools.

The two also are working to reunite about 500 children -- some of whom had been conscripted as soldiers -- with their families after contact was lost when they fled fighting.

People in the northern region of North Kivu province have been fleeing violence since late January, when the government launched an offensive against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, according to the humanitarian aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres. The group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is providing medical treatment to some of the displaced people in the affected towns and villages.

All About Democratic Republic of the CongoRwandaMedecins Sans Frontieres International

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