Fighters starve to death
3 October, 2014, 12:00 am
MORE than 100 demobilised fighters and their relatives have allegedly died of starvation and disease in a camp in Democratic Republic of Congo.
They were moved to an isolated army camp in the north-west last year after surrendering in the volatile east, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.
They received minimal food and health supplies, some apparently surviving on crops stolen from farmers’ fields.
Defence Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo said there had been problems funding the government’s demobilisation program.
“We did not purposely leave people to die,” he said, adding that international donors had failed to deliver aid.
“Many ambassadors and UN staff have already visited the camp and everyone agrees that access is difficult, which is why the conditions are bad.”
The UN says it is now sending teams to the area to evaluate the needs of the camp and will provide help shortly.
Numerous armed groups are still active in eastern DR Congo, despite the end of the civil war more than a decade ago.
Militias are able to make money from the region’s minerals, some of which are used to make mobile phones.