DRC - new displacement in North Kivu

Briefing Notes, 26 January 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 26 January 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The continuing military operations and banditry by armed groups in the troubled North Kivu province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have forced thousands of civilians to leave their homes over the past two months.

Since December last year, UNHCR registered 15,508 newly displaced people (IDPs) as they approached dozens of UNHCR-run sites, seeking shelter and safety. According to the fleeing families the situation was difficult and unsafe in their villages in the western part of North Kivu where military operations and rampaging by armed groups are forcing civilians to seek safety elsewhere.

We registered the newly arrived IDPs in camps in and around Kitchanga, in an area spreading some 50km to 150km north-west of Goma, the capital of the province. This latest wave of displacement brings the total camp population to 116,000 IDPs. UNHCR is currently managing 47 IDP camps in the region, providing protection and assistance.

We estimate that so far we have registered only a part of the recently displaced population and that many more could be sheltering with host families or hiding in the woods fearing to return to their homes. These IDPs cannot be accessed due to insecurity and impassable roads.

The Congolese government launched several offensives during 2009 aimed at neutralising the Rwandan Hutu militia the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). However, other militias and armed groups have taken advantage of the situation, attacking civilians, looting property, committing rape and burning homes.

There is an estimated total of 2.1 million IDPs in eastern DRC where harassment, human rights abuses, rapes and intimidations against civilians are regularly reported by the local population.

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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.

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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