1.7 Million Dead in 22-Month War

source: IRIN

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International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10168

June 8, 2000
New York:
Ed Bligh (212) 551-3114 (ebligh at theIRC.org)
Melissa Winkler (212) 551-0972 (melissa at theIRC.org)
Mark Bartolini (202) 822-0043 Ext.18 (ircgov at mindspring.org)

New Evidence Reveals Staggering Loss of Life in Eastern Congo:
1.7 Million Dead in 22-Month War

New York
The civil war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is decimating the
civilian population at a rate previously unrecognized.

A comprehensive mortality study, released today by the International Rescue
Committee, found that since August 1998 there have been at least 1.7
million deaths in war-affected areas over and above the 600,000 that would
normally be expected.
The overwhelming majority of these additional deaths are attributable to
preventable diseases and malnutrition - a tragic consequence of a health
care system destroyed by war.

"On average, some 2,600 people are dying every day in this war and our
research found that the first months of the year 2000 were even worse than
1999," said the study's author, epidemiologist Les Roberts.

Among the study's findings:
- 34 percent of the deaths have been children under the age of five (over
- The highest death rates are among populations displaced by the fighting.
- Civilians are being indiscriminately targeted by all sides in the conflict.
- 47 percent of all violent war-related deaths are women and children.
- There is a direct link between deaths by disease and deaths by violence;
when  violence increased, so did disease.

"The loss of life in Congo has been staggering," said Reynold Levy,
International Rescue Committee President.
"It's as if the entire population of Houston was wiped off the face of the
earth in a matter of months.
With this new evidence in hand, policy makers must take action. Securing
peace and financing humanitarian aid at much higher levels will be
necessary to stem the tide of death revealed in this report."

The International Rescue Committee is calling on world governments and
multinational organizations to support a robust U.N.
peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to increase
humanitarian assistance in proportion to the country's horrific level of
death and suffering.

The IRC is also urging all warring parties to agree to an immediate
ceasefire, to re-commit themselves and their supporters to establishing
peace as soon as possible and to permit the delivery of humanitarian aid
without conditions.

The complete report can be found on the IRC's Web site:

Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the International Rescue
Committee is among the world's largest voluntary nonsectarian agencies
providing relief, protection and resettlement services for refugees and
victims of oppression and violent conflict.
The IRC serves refugees and displaced people in over 30 countries and
operates a network of resettlement offices in 19 cities in the United

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