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Congolese Desperately Need More Help

Congolese Desperately Need More Help, New Zealand Aid Agency Says

New Zealand aid agency Christian World Service (CWS) is appealing for funds to help some of the 250,000 people forced out of their homes by horrific fighting in the DR Congo.

The aid, development and justice agency of New Zealand churches says recent atrocities in the eastern DR Congo add urgency to calls for extra international peacekeepers to be deployed immediately. Last week, the United Nations Security Council agreed to send 3000 more troops to the DR Congo, bringing the total number to 20,000. The Congolese government believes it could take three to six months for the extra troops to be deployed and wants a European Union force to protect civilians.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon this week said the human rights situation was a cause for grave concern. Rebels have carried out serious human rights abuses with impunity, including mass killings, torture, abductions, forced recruitment of children, forced displacement and destruction of refugee camps, forced labour and sexual violence. Elements of the Congolese army and national police were also to blame.

Funds collected by CWS will be used to help displaced families outside the camps with food, water, shelter and sanitation. CWS is calling for the UN to have a clear mandate to protect civilians and save the lives of thousands of people under daily threat.

The CWS appeal comes as it launches its annual Christmas Appeal, this year themed Keep Hope Alive for people living in conflict. Donations for both appeals can be made at www.cws.org.nz or by phoning 0800 74 73 72.

ENDS

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