UNHCR concerned about violence in North Kivu as aid worker killed

News Stories, 16 December 2008

© UNHCR/P.Taggart
Displaced and vulnerable young Congolese at the Kibati site. UNHCR is concerned about security.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, December 16 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday condemned an attack on a vehicle carrying staff of an Italian aid agency that left one person dead and another injured in the strife-torn Congolese province of North Kivu.

"UNHCR deplores the cold-blooded murder of a staff member of the Italian NGO, Voluntary Association for International Service (AVSI)," a spokesperson said, adding that armed men had on Monday ambushed the vehicle near Rutshuru town, which is located some 70 kilometres north of the provincial capital, Goma.

AVSI started its humanitarian activities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2002 and, among its current activities, is working with children in the new UNHCR-run Mugunga III camp, just west of Goma. Monday's ambush comes amid mounting UNHCR concern about the safety of internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps north of Goma following a number of security incidents.

Last week, two young girls were shot in Kibati. A five-year-old died and a seven-year-old girl was fighting for her life in a local hospital. UNHCR staff also reported that another woman had been raped last Thursday by armed men in the vicinity of Kibati camp. The agency is concerned that the civilian character of the two UNHCR-run camps at Kibati is continually violated.

The UNHCR spokesperson also said on Tuesday that the agency was alarmed by reports in Rutshuru that fighters loyal to renegade commander, Laurent Nkunda, were pressuring IDPs currently seeking refuge in a makeshift site close to the base of the UN peace-keeping mission (MONUC) to return to their villages. Some 10,000 IDPs are sheltering around the MONUC base, fearing reprisals from armed groups.

Renewed fighting between Nkunda's soldiers and government troops has forced some 250,000 people to flee for their lives in North Kivu since August.

UNHCR has received worrying reports that the rebels are stopping people trying to reach the site near the MONUC base. The rebel group has reportedly recruited youths to conduct night patrols and to prevent people from reaching the site.

A UNHCR team on mission to Rutshuru further reported that most displaced families tend to leave the makeshift site near MONUC and go to their villages during the day, but return before nightfall. Many who spoke to UNHCR appealed to be relocated elsewhere as their situation had become more precarious. They also reported arbitrary detentions by the rebels.

Near Goma, meanwhile, UNHCR is continuing the voluntary transfers of IDPs from the Kibati camps near Goma to the new site at Mugunga III. "So far, we have assisted more than 3,200 displaced persons to relocate to Mugunga III, and we continue to transfer about 600 daily," the spokesperson said. According to latest UNHCR estimates, there are now more than 142,000 displaced people in the six UNHCR-run IDP camps in the immediate vicinity of Goma.

Fighting in North Kivu intensified at the end of 2006. By January 2008, it had brought the total number of IDPs in the North Kivu region to more than 846,000.

By David Nthengwe in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo




Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Relocation from the Border Country of Burkina Faso

The process of relocating refugees from one site to a safer one is full of challenges. In Burkina Faso, the UN refugee agency has been working with partner organizations and the government to move thousands of Malian refugee families away from border sites like Damba to a safer camp some 100 kilometres to the south. Working under hot and harsh conditions, the aid workers had to dismantle shelters and help people load their belongings onto trucks for the journey. The new site at Mentao is also much easier to access with emergency assistance, including shelter, food, health care and education. These images, taken by photographer Brian Sokol, follow the journey made by Agade Ag Mohammed, a 71-year-old nomad, and his family from Damba to Mentao in March. They fled their home in Gao province last year to escape the violence in Mali, including a massacre that left two of his sons, a brother and five nephews dead. As of mid-April 2013 there were more than 173,000 Malian refugees in neighbouring countries. Within the arid West African nation there are an estimated 260,000 internally displaced people.

Relocation from the Border Country of Burkina Faso

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

Since fighting broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur last year, more than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. They are scattered along a 600-km stretch of desert borderland under a scorching sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night.

Access to these refugees in this inhospitable region is difficult. Staff of the UN refugee agency drive for days to locate them. Bombing in the border zone and cross-border raids by militia from Sudan put the refugees at risk and underscore the urgent need to move them to camps in the interior. In addition, the approach of the rainy season in May will make the sandy roads impassable. Aid workers are racing against time in an attempt bring emergency relief to these refugees.

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

Greece: Sunday Boat ArrivalPlay video

Greece: Sunday Boat Arrival

With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year stands now close to the 530,000 mark. In September, 168,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, the highest monthly figure ever recorded and almost five times the number in September 2014.The continuing high rate of arrivals underlines the need for a fast implementation of Europe's relocation programme, jointly with the establishment of robust facilities to receive, assist, register and screen all people arriving by sea. Steps needed to stabilize the crisis.​
Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate
Play video

Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate

The 2013 winner of UNHCR`s Nansen Refugee Award is Sister Angelique Namaika, who works in the remote north east region of Democratic Republic of the Congo with survivors of displacement and abuse by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). She has helped over 2000 displaced women and girls who have suffered the most awful kidnapping and abuse, to pick up the pieces of their lives and become re-accepted by their communities.
Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.