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Congo remains world's deadliest catastrophe - UN

Written by: Staff

KINSHASA, May 14 : The international community is overlooking the world's worst humanitarian disaster in Democratic Republic of Congo, where 10 million people need life-saving assistance, a U N official today said.

With 1,200 people dying every day in the vast central African state, the United Nations launched an appeal three months ago for 682 million dollar to provide water, food, medical assistance, shelter and protection to those at risk.

That equates to just 0.18 dollar per person each day.

So far, donors have provided just 13 per cent of that, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

''While international attention is currently focused on other crises, the DRC remains the world's deadliest umanitarian catastrophe,'' Ross Mountain, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Congo, said in the release.

Yesterday, international charity Oxfam criticised rich countries for not giving enough money to combat Congo's crisis.

Oxfam singled out European nations Italy, France and Germany as providing next to nothing and said even the United States and Japan had given relatively little.

The United Nations has declared 2006 the year of Democratic Republic of Congo to recognise the best prospects for peace and recovery since the mineral-rich giant gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Congo, known as Zaire during the three-decade rule of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, is due to hold its first national elections in more than 40 years on July 30.

Its last war officially ended in 2003 a five-year conflict which sucked in six African nations and killed nearly 4 million people, largely through hunger and disease.

Some 17,000 United Nations' peacekeepers are deployed across Congo, but insecurity plagues the mineral-rich east where bands of gunmen terrorise civilians raping, pillaging and killing.

The UN Action Plan groups 89 projects by national and international agencies, including humanitarian schemes and work aimed at fostering a peaceful transition after years of dictatorship, war and chaos.

Donors have already provided more than 459 million dollar to help organise July's presidential and parliamentary elections.


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