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DRC civilians at risk, says Red Cross

2012-08-08 20:18

Geneva -Intensification in fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has left increasing numbers of civilians at risk of violent "exactions", the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

"The exactions we have been seeing in recent months targeting civilians are extremely worrying and contrary to all basic humanitarian principles," said Franz Rauchenstein, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kinshasa.

Violence has gripped the eastern Kivu provinces of the country for years but the escalation in attacks in the last three months and "the increasingly ethnic nature of the recent violence" are causes for concern, the ICRC said in a statement.

"Sometimes the simple fact of wanting to go and help an injured person who is believed to be an enemy by one of the warring parties can be dangerous," said Rauchenstein.

The Geneva-based aid agency also condemned the pillaging of medical centres and a growing number of attacks on medical personnel, which "deprive surrounding communities of medical aid, sometimes for several weeks".

In addition, Red Cross staff were putting themselves at "considerable risk" by burying victims of the fighting in which mutinous soldiers of the M23 movement have clashed with government forces since May.