Date Published: 22 December 2008

Mia Farrow calls for access for aid agencies in Congo

Health News from around the world.

Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow, who has returned from a three-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), urged all armed groups in North Kivu to allow aid organisations to provide life saving assistance to women and children.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Ms Farrow said because of the violence in many areas, aid workers were facing huge challenges and were frustrated because they were unable to access thousands of people in need.

"Aid workers themselves are not safe yet they are doing heroic work under a very difficult situation," Ms Farrow explained. "They are deeply concerned about those they cannot reach, particularly the most vulnerable: the women and children. All armed groups must give aid workers immediate and complete humanitarian access."

Since August this year, fighting between government forces and rebel groups have forced more than 250,000 people to flee their homes, contributing to the one million already displaced in eastern Congo.

Ms Farrow spent three days in North Kivu, eastern DRC. Whilst there she visited camps for the internally displaced in Kiwandja and Kibati and UNICEF supported health and therapeutic feeding centres in Shasha and Kanyabayonga. She also went into villages where she spoke to women and children many of whom had been raped, beaten and forced from their homes.

"What is unfolding in DRC is one of the worst situations I have ever encountered," she said. "In their own homes, people are raped, tortured, mutilated and abducted. All ordinary ways of life have been disrupted. People can't farm, don't have access to their land, there is no way to get food, children can't go to school for fear of being raped or abducted. It's a dire situation."

Africa, DR Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC

Source: UNICEF Press Release

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