Repeated violence against humanitarian organisations: Medair protests by suspending its activities in the Congo

Repeated violence against humanitarian organisations: Medair protests by suspending its activities in the Congo

Medair strongly condemns the repeated acts of physical aggression, looting and hostage taking that the humanitarian community of Ituri has been subjected to by armed groups operating in this region, located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Medair will suspend its humanitarian activities for 9 days as a sign of protest against this violence.
Since the start of the war in 1997, Medair workers have been present in Ituri, bringing aid and thus hope to thousands of victims, often at the risk of loosing their own lives. Respecting the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, Medair has brought humanitarian assistance to all communities, regardless of their ethnic, religious, political or territorial affiliations. This action has especially been possible thanks to support from local authorities.

Today, in order to continue on this track, humanitarian assistance must benefit from improved security conditions for the population affected as well as for the NGOs. Therefore Medair, in conjunction with the humanitarian community in Ituri is calling for the following:

The active involvement of all communities present in Ituri to ensure the security of the NGOs operating in their region, which are at risk of ceasing to provide humanitarian assistance.

Respect for the commitment of local and national authorities to protect the humanitarian workers and their beneficiaries.

The restraint by all armed groups of any activity that seeks to prevent access to vulnerable populations or to bring harm to aid workers.

As a sign of protest to the increasing difficulty of working in a secured environment and to the growing threat of violence to which the NGOs have been subjected, Medair and the other members of the humanitarian community will suspend their humanitarian activities for a symbolic duration of 9 days from June 20th to June 28th, 2005.

Meanwhile, measures are being taken to avoid that the vulnerable populations incur fatal consequences.

Organisations participating in this common action: Medair, AAA, Atlas logistique, Aviation sans frontière, Caritas Développement, CESVI, COOPI, IRC, MSF-Suisse, Première Urgence, RCN, SFC-UK, Solidarités, Air Serv, FAO, PAM, UNICEF, OCHA.

Press contact: Dr. David Sauter; Tél. : +41 (0)21 694 35 35 / email : david.sauter@medair.org

Medair provides large scale medical assistance in over 350 health structures to 3 million inhabitants in the northeast region of the Congo, an area 4 times the size of Switzerland. Medair seeks to continue its aid as long as stability is not truly re-established in the country and the living conditions of the local communities are not truly improved.

Medair is a non-governmental organization, supported entirely by donations. You can help improve our emergency response. We would appreciate if you could mention the possibility of making an on-line contribution from our website www.medair.org or by CCP: 10-648-6