EU flies aid to conflict-hit eastern Congo

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A bright yellow cargo plane carrying tents, medical equipment, and other humanitarian aid landed on Friday in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the first delivery under an EU scheme to support some of the region’s millions of displaced people.

Fighting between the Congolese army and the M23, a rebel group claiming to represent the interests of ethnic Tutsis in eastern Congo has exacerbated an existing humanitarian crisis with over 5.5 million people displaced across several provinces.

The European Union last week promised to send aid worth over $50 million to North Kivu to support immediate needs such as nutrition, healthcare, water and sanitation, shelter and protection.

A second plane with EU-funded supplies is scheduled to arrive next week, the EU’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Marc Chataigner, said at Goma airport.

“It is a real opportunity for us to show our total solidarity with the Congolese population,” he said.

Insecurity has spiralled in Congo’s volatile east over the past year, partly due to the major comeback of the M23.

But with the regional focus turned to North Kivu, attacks by other groups have also intensified in neighbouring Ituri province in recent months.

Eastern Congo has struggled with instability and conflicts since the 1990s that have killed millions and given rise to dozens of militias, some of which remain active.