Over one thousand civilians are dying every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The ICRC claims the vast majority of deaths are from easily preventable illnesses, due to the on-going six-year civil war that’s festering killed nearly four million people.

The IRC says more than 31,000 civilians continue to die each month in Africa’s third largest nation, despite peace deals reached by 2002.

The 1998-2002 war in Congo drew in the armies of five other African nations, fighting for control over the country’s gold, diamonds and other precious minerals.

Rwanda and Uganda and allied Congolese rebel groups held control of the east and north-east while government forces held the west.

Although the Congo’s war is officially over, the IRC describes it as still being the “deadliest crisis” in the world, with the international community doing too little to stop it.

“In a matter of six years, the world lost a population equivalent to the entire country of Ireland or the city of Los Angeles,” said Dr Richard Brennan, one of the authors of the report.

“Congo remains by far the deadliest crisis in the world, but year after year the conflict festers and the international community fails to take effective action,” he said.

The report found almost half of those who died were children under the age of five.

And 98 percent of people were killed by disease and malnutrition resulting from a healthcare system destroyed by the years of war.

Congo’s immediate future looks shaky.

Despite a peace deal signed in 2002 and a transitional government set up last year, huge tracts of the vast central African nation remain unstable.

Last month, Rwanda threatened to attack rebels in Congo, fuelling fears of a return to full-scale war.

“If the effects of insecurity and violence in Congo’s eastern provinces were removed entirely, mortality would reduce to almost normal levels,” the IRC said.

It described the international humanitarian response as “grossly inadequate in proportion to need”.

While the US aid budget for Iraq in 2003 totaled $3.5b, Washington spent only US $188m on Congo in 2004

The IRC says that’s worth the equivalent of $138 per person.

The organisation lists the immediate priorities money as improving security, increasing basic medical care and providing immunisation and clean water.

The agency says along with more aid, there was also a need for more United Nations peacekeepers.

There are currently plans for around 15,000 UN troops to be deployed, but the IRC claimed these were poorly equipped, poorly trained and lacking in commitment.

It wants highly trained and well-resourced troops who could prevent arms flows and protect vulnerable civilians.

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