Aid agencies have voiced fears that a possible military offensive by the United Nations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo could make the humanitarian situation worse and lead to attacks on their workers.
US-based aid advocacy group Refugees International urged Mr Kerry to recognise that: “Unless certain safeguards are imposed, military action by the Intervention Brigade could further exacerbate DR Congo’s humanitarian crisis.”
The UN says more than 2.5 million people have been made homeless by the conflicts in the DR Congo — most of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres earlier said it was very concerned about a blurring of the distinction between the UN’s humanitarian and military work. Because of the potential confusion between those roles, MSF said it no longer wanted any military — including UN soldiers — deployed near its health facilities. There was a real danger, MSF said, that heightened tension could lead to a targeting of medical activities.