Civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo Under Fire

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Fighting Claims More Lives than Previously Reported

Kisangani/New York, May 8, 2000 — Heavy shelling between Rwandan and Ugandan troops in and around the eastern city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed more civilian lives than previously reported. Yesterday, a joint mission of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited 41 health centers and 4 general hospitals in Kisangani. The investigation found 28 confirmed deaths (27 civilians and 1 soldier) and 159 wounded (155 civilians and 4 soldiers) in the hostilities of the past three days.

Fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan troops broke out last Friday. Between 300 and 400 shells were fired in a single day causing extensive damage in parts of the city and forcing much of the civilian population of Kisangani to go into hiding. MSF teams also went into hiding for two days and an MSF office was hit by a shell and severely damaged.

The relative calm on Sunday allowed the joint mission the chance to conduct an assessment of medicine and supply needs at the health centers and hospitals visited. MSF began distributing medicines and medical supplies today.

As in August of 1999, the civilian population of Kisangani (approximately 500,000) is victim of ongoing tensions between warring parties. MSF calls for a halt in hostile activities affecting the civilian population of Kisangani.

MSF runs medical and nutritional programs throughout Oriental Province and its capital Kisangani in eastern DRC.