Revived rail line transports aid to isolated area of DR Congo UN

“On this day, a large chunk of the suffering that has come as a direct result of the DRC’s civil – and arguably regional – war will start to be alleviated,” said Jennifer Bakody, a spokesperson for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC). Known as the “peace train,” the line starts in the southeastern town of Lubumbashi, near the DRC’s border with Zambia. It will convey wagonloads of salt, sugar and medicine from international development agencies working in partnership with the UN. Kindu is a town of 200,000 Congolese, lying about 400 kilometres west of the blockaded eastern DRC town of Bukavu. After two years of fierce fighting, there was no train service for the next six. Kindu residents and other people in the affected province would transport baskets of food, other goods and water on their heads or backs, often walking in the high weeds along the rail line. Lack of transportation also denied them access to reading material, safe drinking water and adequate nutrition. The UN-sponsored Radio Okapi and its publications have been their only reliable source of information, Ms. Bakody said. In preparation for the train’s arrival, dozens of local people painted the small concrete station near the River Congo and built a big wooden stage for dignitaries.

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