UNHCR starts moving vulnerable displaced Congolese to safer area

News Stories, 28 November 2008

© UNHCR/D.Nthengwe
A UNHCR worker helps some of the vulnerable civilians who were moved from Kibati on Friday.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 28 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday began moving internally displaced civilians from camps near a military frontline in Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu province to another in a much safer area.

A first convoy rolled out of Kibati I camp, located on the northern outskirts of the provincial capital Goma, on Friday morning with 28 highly vulnerable individuals. It took them to the Mugunga I site west of Goma, but the plan is to move up to 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from the two Kibati camps to the new Mugunga III, which has almost been completed.

The Kibati camps are too close to the frontline between government troops and soldiers loyal to the renegade commander, Laurent Nkunda. Fighting between the two sides since August has displaced some 250,000 people in North Kivu province, including the 67,000 IDPs now in Kibati.

The first convoy included people with special needs such as those with physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, pregnant women and the elderly. They also took along their belongings. UNHCR hopes to have transferred some 1,000 people to Mugunga I by the beginning of next week.

All of the transfers will be accompanied by an ambulance with a medical team. UNHCR staff, together with local officials and other aid workers, will receive the arriving IDP families at Mugunga I, where shelter, assistance and other basic services will be provided.

They will be joining another 25,000 IDPs, who have been there since 2006. The site has potable water, latrines, a health centre and a distribution point for food and relief items. UNHCR will step up the transfer operation once Mugunga III is ready for occupation. "Everything has its starting point," noted Ibrahima Coly, head of the UNHCR office in Goma. "From today's experience, we can plan better," he added.

Construction work is continuing at Mugunga III, but the new site is expected to be ready in the next few days. The most vulnerable families in Kibati will be moved by vehicle, but most people will have to go by foot. The move is completely voluntary.

Fighting in North Kivu intensified at the end of 2006. By January 2008, it had brought the total number of IDPs in the region to more than 800,000. Since the fighting resumed in August, some 250,000 civilians have fled, many of them already displaced. Some 27,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring Uganda in the same period.

By David Nthengwe in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo




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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

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Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

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