Christian emergency response organizations have expressed alarm at a deteriorating situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province and about brutalities innocent civilians are facing in a potential humanitarian catastrophe.
The Geneva-based ACT International (Action by Churches Together) said it had accounts from aid workers of looted shops and dead bodies on the pavements in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Emergency work became paralyzed after aid workers themselves were withdrawn from the field for security reasons, while thousands of people have sought refuge as rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda moved towards the city.
In Manila, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for an end to the fighting in the DRC saying, “Unfortunately, the situation in Goma is worrisome. There were some attacks even against the United Nations mission by civilian people.”
Emile Mpanya, ACT representative in Kisangani, the most northerly navigable point on the River Congo, said that the U.N. security service has asked the emergency agencies to withdraw international staff from the area.
“It is feared that with the fall of Goma to the rebels, the retreating soldiers will commit brutalities on the population,” said Mpanya. Most of the displaced people are the families of retreating soldiers, mostly their wives.