Tens of Thousands Flee Fighting in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Kinshasa/New York, 17 December 2004: The entire population of Kanyabayonga has fled fighting in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of Wednesday, December 15, 2004, with most of the nearly 35,000 people going towards Kayna and Kirumba dozens of miles to the north. The increased fighting has also forced a team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to evacuate Kayna, where the group had been running a medical-nutritional program since January 2004. Since Sunday, the team had also set up emergency assistance (medical consultations and distribution of emergency items) to those fleeing Kanyabayonga.

Before and during the evacuation, MSF was forced several times to hand over its vehicles to the military, which endanger the security of MSF teams and compromises MSF’s neutrality in the eyes of other parties to the conflict.

MSF’s priority is to return to providing assistance to the displaced and wounded. In order to carry out such programs, it is crucial for different armed groups to respect neutral humanitarian activities.