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Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Poor DR Congo offers aid to Haiti

Boy in Haiti
Aid is slowly starting to arrive in Haiti

The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced it is sending $2.5m (£1.5m) in emergency aid to Haiti, to help it cope with last week's earthquake.

Some Congolese have criticised the offer. After years of conflict, which is still raging in the east, millions of people live in poverty.

The country depends on foreign aid and civil servants frequently go unpaid.

But Information Minister Lambert Mende told the BBC that DR Congo would contribute within its means.

It's a contradiction to see a country which is facing serious financial problems giving away $2.5m
Academic Ntanda Nkere

"Congo isn't bankrupt, our own problems shouldn't prevent us from helping a brother country," he said.

But political scientist Ntanda Nkere from the University of Kinshasa told the BBC:

"It's a contradiction to see a country which is facing serious financial problems giving away $2.5m but at the same time, it's a purely diplomatic reaction, the Congolese government wants to appear like any other government."

On Sunday, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said he was offering free land to any Haitians who wanted to "return" to Africa.

Most of Haiti's population are descended from slaves.

"The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin," said Mr Wade's spokesman, Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye.

Responding to the Senegalese offer, Mr Mende said the government would certainly not reject any Haitians if they wanted to move to DR Congo.

The earthquake killed tens of thousands in Haiti, with many bodies still stuck in the remains of buildings.

Aid is slowly arriving but aid workers are struggling to distribute it to all those who need it.



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