An international development agency is reporting that the seemingly endless war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is causing "misery" for the people there.
Caritas International, which brings together 162 Catholic relief organizations, estimates that 14 percent of children in the DRC will die before their fifth birthday, while more than one million children there presently suffer from malnutrition.
The plight of women is also of particular concern to the aid organization. With 1,330 cases of rape reported in South Kivu, Caritas has committed to providing medical care and counseling to 250 of the rape survivors.
More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes by fighting between the government forces and at rebel groups the Lord's Resistance Army and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda in the eastern and northern parts of the country.
Caritas believes it needs at least $12 million to adequately serve 400,000 of them with food and medical care. It is also planning to provide children with 162 teachers so that they can continue with their education.
Food, essential items such as cooking pots and cutlery, medicines and educational resources are urgently needed.
Caritas Congo National Director Dr. Bruno Miteyo sees no end to the fighting soon.
“The war is far from over in Congo and neither is the misery for the people. Hundreds of thousands more have been driven from their homes in fresh clashes between militias and the government," he said.
"Their homes have been looted or burned. Protection from attack, rape, and looting is the most urgent need. The people also urgently need food, health care, and security. Caritas is able to reach the most vulnerable through parish and diocesan networks.”
There were hopes that the arrest of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda would bring peace but that hope has evaporated since January with an upsurge in violence driving more people from their homes.