Aid agencies call for Australian Government action on Congo

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 31 Oct 2008

Aid agencies call for Australian Government action on Congo

October 31, 2008

Oxfam, Caritas and World Vision are calling for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to allow urgent access to tens of thousands of people requiring immediate food, clean water, medical attention and shelter.

A rebel ceasefire has been declared and the agencies hope it will be respected and backed up by a return to existing peace accords.

Jack de Groot, CEO of Caritas Australia said, "the crisis in DRC threatens the security of hundreds of thousands of people and has significant concerning impacts for security in this region. With Australia’s renewed engagement with Africa outlined recently by Foreign Minister Smith, this is a crucial time to put this talk into action."

Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Australia said, "We need immediate safe access for our aid workers on the ground to head off a humanitarian catastrophe. The Australian Government needs to pull out all the stops at meetings of the UN in New York to achieve this goal. Around 250,000 civilians have fled their homes in North Kivu since a January peace deal collapsed in August, adding to the 850,000 already displaced over the previous two years."

Caritas Australia, World Vision and Oxfam are also calling for the Australian Government to use all available avenues to push for an international solution to the violence.

Tim Costello, Chief Executive of World Vision Australia said, "Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith have consistently called for greater Australian involvement in multilateral institutions. Now is the time to put this into practice. The Australian Government must work at an international levelto find a solution to end the violence that’s threatening vulnerable children and women in the DRC."

The Australian Government has committed more than 14 million dollars to the UN-led peace keeping mission in the DRC this financial year.

The three agencies are urging the Government to supply additional humanitarian funding to assist those affected by the crisis.

Kate Thwaites, Oxfam Australia 0407 515 559