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UNHCR alarm at new reported atrocities against displaced Congolese

Briefing Notes, 3 February 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 3 February 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is alarmed by recent reports that internally displaced people have been tortured and killed by armed elements in the IDP camps of North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since the last quarter of 2011, armed groups have been intruding on IDP camps in North Kivu, violating their civilian character. The main affected camps are in Nyanzale, Mweso and Birambizo in the Masisi territory, about 90 km north-west of the provincial capital Goma.

Displaced Congolese are constantly threatened by various groups and militias who accuse them of collaborating with one armed group or another. On 13 December last year, seven IDPs were beaten to death because they had refused to take part in forced labour imposed by the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). UNHCR has also received reports of IDPs being tortured.

Ongoing violence is also hindering humanitarian access to the camps and preventing aid workers from protecting and assisting the displaced people. Only 8 IDP camps out of 31 are accessible to humanitarian workers without military escort.

UNHCR calls on all parties to respect the civilian character of IDP sites in North Kivu. We are appealing to provincial authorities to increase security in and around the camps. Currently, there are only 40 police officers deployed to secure six of the 31 camps in the province. We are also liaising with MONUSCO to increase the presence of security forces in areas most in need of protection and to ensure the safety of civilians living in the IDP sites.

Nearly 79,000 displaced Congolese are currently living in 31 IDP camps in North Kivu. Many of them have no hope of going home in the near future due to continued insecurity and renewed fighting between armed groups and the military in their villages. Returns could not be organized during the whole of last year.

North Kivu is home to more than 600,000 IDPs, over one-third of the 1.7 million IDPs countrywide.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Kinshasa: Celine Schmitt on mobile +243 81 700 9484
  • In Goma: Simplice Kpandji on mobile +243 81 833 132
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483
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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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