REPUBLIC OF CONGO: IRIN News Briefs [19991112]

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: IRIN News Briefs [19991112]

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: IRIN News Briefs, Friday 12 November


UN official stresses plight of "forgotten victims" UN appeal urges $17 million in humanitarian aid Insecurity and widespread human rights abuses persist Government asked to report on human rights issues Eight killed in clash Partial results of polio campaign

UN official stresses plight of "forgotten victims"

The estimated 810,000 displaced people and recent returnees in the Republic of Congo were among the "largest groups of forgotten humanitarian victims", UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Republic of Congo William Paton said on Wednesday. Although the overall situation in the country was improving and fighting had declined in recent months, there were still grave humanitarian needs that had to be addressed, Paton told a press briefing at the UN headquarters. About 100,000 displaced people had reached Pointe-Noire, some 200,000 had reached Brazzaville and about half a million were still in the interior of the country. Mortality rates remained "alarmingly high" due to the suspension of food production, reduced food imports and large population concentrations in some areas, he said.

Meanwhile, Paton told IRIN that new humanitarian missions to access displaced populations outside Brazzaville and Pointe Noire should take place in the near future.

UN appeal calls for $17 million in humanitarian aid

The UN this week released details of a US $17 million consolidated inter-agency appeal for the year 2000 based on the likelihood of further stabilisation in the country and greater humanitarian access to the rural interior. While acknowledging that consideration will have to be given to the possibility of escalating hostilities, limited access and worsening rural-urban exodus, the UN's intention is to "concentrate emergency assistance mainly on the four most affected regions" (Pool, Bouenza, Niari and Lekoumou) in the south, along with affected populations in Pointe-Noire and the Plateaux region, the appeal document states. Throughout 1999, only small areas of the country were reached by either international or national humanitarian agencies, it says. The appeal will be officially launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Geneva on 23 November. [The appeal can be viewed at]

Insecurity and widespread human rights abuses persist

Opposition forces retain control of only a few areas but "insecurity persists throughout the countryside" while looting, extortion and sexual violence remain widespread, and with impunity, the appeal document states. UN agencies will assist in the return and reintegration of displaced people in their communities in order to enhance stability, and "negotiate access into the interior at every opportunity". They will also prepare contingency plans in case the security and humanitarian situation deteriorates markedly, it adds.

Government asked to report on human rights issues

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Committee has requested the Congo to provide it with information on the status of militias, particularly the involvement of children, and on measures taken by the government to combat domestic violence, rape and other abuses against women. A press release from the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) said that the Committee has also asked for details on measures taken to prevent human rights violations by security forces and about means of protecting displaced persons. The Congo is scheduled to present its periodical report to the Human Rights Committee in March 2000.

Eight killed in clash

Eight militiamen allied to former president Pascal Lissouba were killed on 7 November in a clash with the army at Louigui, about 80 km southwest of Brazzaville, news agencies reported. AFP quoted army spokesman Jean-Robert Obargui as saying on Tuesday that there were no casualties on the government's side.

Partial results of polio campaign

A polio campaign has been completed in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire with a estimated coverage rate of 60 percent, humanitarian sources said. No information on campaign results was currently available for the rest of the country. The campaign aimed to immunise some 400,000 children under five years of age.


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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