UNHCR visits Congolese towns attacked by Lord's Resistance Army

News Stories, 6 January 2009

© UNHCR/M.Fawke
Internally displaced children in Tadu on Saturday.

BUNIA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 6 (UNHCR) UNHCR staff have taken part in a joint assessment mission to an area of north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo) hit by deadly attacks in recent weeks by a rebel Ugandan group.

A UN team, gathering members of UNHCR and sister agencies, met local officials, representatives of local non-governmental organizations (NGO), and displaced civilians during last weekend's visit to the towns of Tadu and Faradje in Orientale province.

The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacked Faradje, some 100 kilometres west of the border between the DRC, Sudan and Uganda, on December 25-26, leaving at least 70 people dead and forcing some 37,000 to flee.

According to initial estimates, LRA fighters have killed up to 500 Congolese civilians in various attacks in the region since the launch on December 14 of a joint Congolese, Sudanese and Ugandan military operation against the rebels. The UN estimates more than 50,000 people have been displaced since mid-December, which is in addition to the 50,000 displaced during an earlier escalation of violence between September and November last year.

The latest rebel attack came on Monday in the Orientale village of Napopo. According to a sketchy report received by UNHCR, up to eight people were killed and houses set ablaze. An unknown number of people were reportedly kidnapped. Two days earlier, rebels attacked the village of Nagero, 24 kms north-west of Faradje, killing at least eight people and displacing some 3,500.

Meanwhile, the joint UN team found that most of those displaced by the LRA's Christmas attack on Faradje and its surroundings were still hiding in the bush. Some of the displaced moved towards Tadu, 37 kms south of Faradje where more than 1,000 displaced people have been registered, mostly women and children.

According to the displaced from Faradje and local NGOs, 225 people, including 160 children, have been kidnapped by the LRA and more than 80 women raped. The mission reported that people in the area were shocked and traumatized by the brutality of the attacks.

UNHCR team members said Faradje had been pillaged and destroyed by fire. More than 800 houses, three schools, government buildings and medical facilities were burned down. Most of Faradje's households lost their annual rice harvest in the fires.

Registration of the newly displaced population is under way in Tadu, Faradje and neighbouring villages. The population is in dire need of food, shelter, medicine, clothes and other aid items. However, the area remains highly volatile and insecurity is a key obstacle for access by UNHCR and other aid agencies. The refugee agency is working with the local authorities and others to find ways of managing assistance in these inaccessible areas.

By Margarida Fawke in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo




Internally Displaced People

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

Related Internet Links

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

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

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.

Posted on 6 November 2008

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

Tanzania: Fleeing Burundi, Refugees Seek SafetyPlay video

Tanzania: Fleeing Burundi, Refugees Seek Safety

He used to fix broken bicycles in Burundi, but as political troubles and killings mounted Nestor Kamza decided to flee. In search of safety he and his family walked non-stop for 24-hours until they reached Tanzania. His family is among more than 100,000 people who have fled from political violence in Burundi and arrived in the Nyarugusu camp which has almost tripled in size. To alleviate overcrowding in the camp, UNHCR and its partners have planned to open three new camps and have started moving tens of thousands of Burundian refugees to a new, less congested, home
Cameroon: A Young Victim of ViolencePlay video

Cameroon: A Young Victim of Violence

Militia attacks on civilians in Central African Republic have left many people, including children, dead or badly injured. Six-year-old Ibrahim is recovering from one such attack, lucky to be alive.
Central African Republic:  Bangui Crisis Play video

Central African Republic: Bangui Crisis

The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic continues to deteriorate with tens of thousands seeking shelter from the violence. In the capital Bangui, the fighting and sectarian violence of the past weeks has displaced an estimated 159,000 people, with 450 killings reported there and 160 in other parts of the country, according to the Central African Red Cross Society and the Danish Refugee Council in the past weeks.