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Ceasefire Broken in Democratic Republic of Congo; International Medical Corps Warns of Looming Humanitarian Catastrophe and Wider Regional Impact
Date:11/7/2008

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As fighting resumed Friday in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and rebels appeared poised to seize Goma, International Medical Corps is deeply concerned that a humanitarian catastrophe could unfold and quickly spread across the region.

In addition to ongoing efforts in DRC, International Medical Corps is also preparing a regional response to the situation and currently has teams mobilized in Uganda and Burundi to deliver assistance to the potential influx of new refugees.

"The delivery of life-saving medical and nutrition services has already been severely curtailed," said Pierre Willems, International Medical Corps' Country Director in DRC. "With the resumption of fighting, even more people will be displaced and in need of care, and yet we fear the humanitarian corridor for delivering assistance is narrowing drastically by the hour."

There is also the imminent danger of disease outbreaks; so far, more than 100 cases of cholera have been reported, along with numerous deaths.

An estimated 200,000 civilians have fled fighting between government and rebel troops in North Kivu Province -- adding to the estimated one million people displaced by an escalation of hostilities in the region a year ago.

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda declared a unilateral ceasefire over the weekend, and so far it has held. However, a rebel spokesman has said the groundwork is being laid for a generalized war in the region.

International Medical Corps has been operating in the most volatile regions of DRC since the mid-90's. In North Kivu province, where much of the recent fighting has taken place, IMC runs primary health care clinics and nutrition programs that serve more than 300,000 people.

For more information, visit our website at http://www.imcworldwide.org.

CONTACT: Margaret Aguirre of International Medical Corps, +1-310
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SOURCE International Medical Corps
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