Canada gives $4.3 million in humanitarian aid

The government of Canada, through its International Development Agency (CIDA), will provide $5.8 million Canadian (US $4.3 million) in humanitarian aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the agency announced on Thursday.

"We applaud the recent efforts made to establish lasting peace and stability in the country, however, there remains a great humanitarian crisis, particularly in the region of Ituri," Susan Whelan, the minister for international cooperation, said in a statement.

"Although the situation has stabilised to the point that many displaced people are able to return to Ituri, they continue to suffer from malnutrition and a lack of basic health care," she said.

CIDA said it would contribute $1 million Canadian (US $748,727) for emergency shelter and clean water for thousands of war-affected people, and for health and nutrition services for vulnerable children in Ituri District, northeastern DRC.

It said this contribution was in addition to the loan of two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to a multinational peace enforcement mission in Bunia, the principal city of Ituri.

"The UN has asked several nations, including Canada, to provide forces to a coalition," John McCallum, the national defence minister, said. "Canada is committed to helping ensure peace, security and stability throughout the world."

CIDA said that another $1.2 million Canadian (US $898,473) would go to the International Rescue Committee for its blood-screening programme, to ensure that transfusion is safe and would avert the infection of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases.

The contributions are in addition to $3.6 million Canadian (US $2.7 million) that Ottawa has allocated to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, for its vitamin A/measles campaign, in response to the 2003 UN Consolidated appeal for the DRC.

"The DRC has one of the world's highest rates of mortality of children under the age of five," CIDA said.