Violence displaces 15,000 Congolese civilians over past two months

News Stories, 26 January 2010

© UNHCR/P.Taggart
An internally displaced Congolese family wait to be registered in a previous wave of displacement caused by conflict in North Kivu.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 26 (UNHCR) Military operations and banditry have forced more than 15,000 people to flee their homes over the past two months in Democratic Republic of the Congo's troubled North Kivu province.

Since December, the UN refugee agency has registered 15,508 newly displaced people at dozens of UNHCR-run sites for internally displaced people (IDP), where they seek shelter and safety.

According to the fleeing families, the situation is difficult and unsafe in their villages in the western part of North Kivu. They say military operations and violence conducted by numerous armed groups are forcing civilians to seek safety elsewhere.

UNHCR registered the new caseload of internally displaced people in and around Kitchanga, in a large area to the north-west of Goma, the capital of the province. This latest wave of displacement brings the total number of IDPs in the UNHCR-run sites to 116,000. 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," a UNHCR spokesperson said on Tuesday.

There are an estimated 2.1 million internally displaced people in total in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where harassment, human rights abuses, rape and intimidation of civilians is regularly reported by the local population.

The Congolese government launched several offensives during 2009 aimed at neutralizing the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda a Rwandan Hutu militia group. However, other militias and armed groups have taken advantage of the situation to attack civilians, loot property, commit rape and burn down homes.

By David Nthengwe in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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

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Congolese Refugees flee to Rwanda

In the first ten days of May 2012, more than 6,500 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo crossed into Rwanda, fleeing fighting between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers. UNHCR and its UN partners worked with the Rwandan government to provide the refugees with humanitarian assistance in the early stages of the crisis, and to find solutions until it is safe for them to return.

Some of the refugees walked for days before reaching the Goma-Gisenyi border crossing between Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. They came with their belongings, including mattresses, clothing, perhaps a few toys for the children. The images are from the border and from the Nkamira Transit Centre, located 22 kilometres inside Rwanda. Accommodation at Nkamira is poor: the centre can only host up to 5,400 individuals. It is only temporary shelter, but numbers continue to swell as hundreds cross the border every day.

Congolese Refugees flee to Rwanda

Congo's river refugees

More than 100,000 Congolese refugees have crossed the Oubangui River in search of safety in neighbouring Republic of the Congo since inter-ethnic violence erupted in their home areas late last year. They fled from Equateur province in the north-west of Democratic Republic of the Congo after Enyele militiamen launched deadly assaults in October on ethnic Munzayas over fishing and farming rights in the Dongo area. The tensions have spread to other parts of the province.

The majority of the displaced are camping in public buildings and some 100 sites along a 600-kilometre stretch of the Oubangui River, including with host communities. The massive influx is stretching the meagre resources of the impoverished and remote region. Help is urgently needed for both the refugees and the host communities.

The relief operation is logistically complex and expensive because the region can only be reached by plane or boat. However, few boats are available and most are in need of repair. Fuel is expensive and difficult to procure.

Congo's river refugees

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

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