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MA Aid Group Rushes Rescues Around the World

October 31, 2008

Cambridge, MA – This week, the economy isn't the only emergency in the world. An international aid organization based in Cambridge is rushing supplies, food and water to two hot spots: Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Two earthquakes in Pakistan have destroyed thousands of homes, and rebel attacks in the DRC have sent at least 200,000 thousand people running from their homes.

Mercy Corps' Emergency Program Manager, Richard Jacquot, was recently in refugee camps in eastern DRC. He says thousands more are expected to arrive, which will raise the risk of disease.

"It's a really difficult situation. That area is an endemic area for cholera, and this would be a serious threat to the population."

If the violence continues to intensify, Jacquot thinks aid workers may have to be evacuated as the United Nations redoubles its efforts to stop the fighting in the DRC's longtime civil war. In the meantime, he says, many refugees around the city of Goma are heading for Rwanda, because Goma is now at risk for attack, with two main roads already blocked by fighting.

"You have basically a population of 600,000 people that were living in Goma prior to the attack, and another estimated 200,000 that are on the move from the various locations under attack, in the north and the west."

The Mercy Corps team in Pakistan says the temperatures there are dropping, and quake zone survivors need blankets, warm clothing, and tents. The relief organization will post updates for both areas on its Web site, www.mercycorps.org.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MA