Survivors of Lord's Resistance Army attacks urgently need assistance

News Stories, 16 January 2009

© UNHCR/D.Nthengwe
A young girl injured in an attack on Duru village in Orientale province.

DURU, Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 16 (UNHCR) UNHCR members of a joint United Nations team expressed shock Friday at the physical condition of civilians who have survived repeated attacks in recent months by Ugandan rebels on their village in the northern Congolese province of Orientale.

The UN team flew by helicopter to Duru on Wednesday and reported that this once vibrant village was deserted and overgrown with vegetation after attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

First attacked by the LRA in September, Duru was again targeted by the rebel group earlier this week, leaving four people dead and the village a virtual ghost town. Back in September, the village had some 6,000 inhabitants. Now, less than 1,000 people remain.

Some of the survivors remaining in the vicinity came out of hiding to meet the visitors. They were traumatized and in urgent need of assistance. Many were clad in rags and looked famished and weak after spending nights in the bush without blankets or shelter. "We are hungry and we are poor," said one man.

The UN refugee agency field officers heard accounts of atrocities carried out by the LRA fighters when they raided Duru on Monday and Tuesday, killing four people, injuring an infant girl and abducting a nine-year-old boy. "I feel sad for my daughter," said the mother of the four-year-old shot in the leg. "She has lost her father," added the woman, who has two other children.

More than 560 civilians have been killed since the LRA began its campaign of violence last September in an area of Orientale province near the Democratic Republic of the Congo's borders with Uganda and South Sudan. This UNHCR estimate includes the victims of reported attacks this week on Duru and Diagbe, further to the north. More than 115,000 people are believed to have been forcibly displaced by the violence and the figure is likely to grow.

The villagers in Duru told UNHCR that the rebels looted and torched their houses, forcing residents to flee into the forest. Some of them made their way towards Dungu, a regional centre some 90 kilometres to the south where UNHCR has a team. Another 2,000 have crossed into Sudan.

The survivors seen in Duru told UNHCR that they did not feel safe, fearing new assaults, rape and abductions. There are no medical personnel in the village and no medicine. The villagers also said it was not safe to drink water from the wells.

Aid agencies face enormous logistical challenges reaching communities affected by the LRA attacks. Duru, for example, can only be reached by helicopter with a security escort of UN peace-keepers. Limited physical access, insecurity and impassable roads are hampering both the delivery and the distribution of relief supplies.

Aid is, however, coming to other parts of Dungu district. On Tuesday, a UN convoy carrying 70 tonnes of food and aid items provided by UN humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, reached Dungu. The trucks spent 10 days on the road after picking up the World Food Programme and UNHCR aid in Goma, the capital of neighbouring North Kivu province.

In the coming days and weeks, the UN refugee agency and its partners hope to reach some 100,000 displaced people in locations such as Duru, Faradje, Doruma, Watsa and Isiro, which have not received any assistance since September. More joint missions are planned to threatened areas this weekend to assess the scale of the displacement and needs of the population.

By David Nthengwe in Duru
and Margarida Fawke in Dungu, Democratic Republic of the Congo




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

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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