Basics Needed in
Republic of Congo

Church World Service is joining with ecumenical partners to help meet needs for basic medicine, food, seeds and tools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (formerly Zaire).

"This is an emergency that has been happening for years," said Rick Augsburger, Emergency Response Director for CWS, the humanitarian assistance ministry of the National Council of Churches. This "chronic emergency" has been exacerbated during the past few years by ethnic strife, civil war and the influx of refugees, he said.

Augsburger was part of an international, inter-agency assessment team, sent by ACT (Action by Churches Together), that spent nine days in the DRC in June assessing emergency needs. CWS is an ACT member.

He described widespread malnutrition, a lack of basic medicines and medical supplies and a devastated infrastructure, along with the special needs of internally displaced Congolese.

"The most critical needs we saw were in Eastern Zaire," he said. For example, he visited a large hospital down river from Kisangani that serves villages up and down the Congo River. "It was totally looted of medicines and equipment during the war by retreating forces of the former Army of Zaire. And they are still trying to serve patients."

CWS is supporting ACT's appeal for $2.2 million for a six-month emergency response program. ACT and its members are working in cooperation with the Eglise du Christ du Congo, local church partners and related agencies. (CWS also is providing support for a planned late-August meeting in Kinshasa of Congolese church leaders on the role of the church in the new DRC.)

The emergency assistance will help lay the ground work for longer-term development in the DRC, Augsburger said. "Now if the country can gain some sense of stability, the DRC can fix itself," he said, "but it needs the help of outside inputs to help make up for the difficulties of the past."

Posted July 18, 1997

For More Information on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Visit These Sites:

  • New Congo Net
  • Congo Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996

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