The United Nations refugee agency is intensifying its efforts to combat the spread of cholera in the troubled North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a spokesman for the agency said today.This week, UNHCR and it partner ASODE, a non-governmental organization (NGO), distributed soap to nearly 20,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in two camps in Mugunga west of Goma in North Kivu. “We hope that these efforts, improved water supply and sanitation, coupled with an intensive public awareness campaign on hygiene will contain the worrying spread of cholera in the camps,” said Ron Redmond.But he warned that poor conditions a nearby makeshift site at Lac Vert hosting more than 10,000 IDPs could contribute to the further spread of cholera. On Wednesday, UNHCR began the transfer of IDPs from Lac Vert to a new camp called Buhimba which the agency built with the necessary basic health, water and sanitation facilities for more than 10,000 people.Cholera broke out in early October in five camps hosting some 45,000 IDPs in the Mugunga area. According to health workers, by the end of October, there were a total of 439 suspected cases of cholera. Mr. Redmond said the latest reports from the camps “indicate that the cholera situation appears to be stabilizing as the number of new suspected cases is slightly dropping.”North Kivu province is facing the worst internal displacement since the end of the DRC’s civil war in 2004, according to UNHCR. Fighting between government forces, renegade troops and rebels forced some 375,000 Congolese to leave their homes in North Kivu since last December, with more than 160,000 newly displaced just over the past two months.“With sharpening inter-ethnic divides and a continuous build-up of military forces, UNHCR remains deeply concerned about the risks of severe human rights abuses and violence against civilians,” Mr. Redmond said. “We welcome all efforts to find a negotiated solution to the ongoing confrontations and prevent further the suffering of the North Kivu population brought on by prolonged instability and fighting.” 9 November 2007The United Nations refugee agency is intensifying its efforts to combat the spread of cholera in the troubled North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a spokesman for the agency said today.