UNHCR concerned at displacement caused by LRA attacks in DR Congo

Briefing Notes, 6 March 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 6 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is very concerned at the recent displacement of several thousand people as a result of renewed attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Orientale province.

After a lull in the second half of last year, which resulted in improved security conditions for the population in the north of the province, fresh attacks on civilians have been reported during the past few weeks in the territories of Dungu, Faradje, Watsa, Niangara, Bondo and Ango, causing 3,000 people to flee.

There have been 20 new attacks since the beginning of this year. One person was killed and 17 abducted during these violent incidents. Abducted civilians are often used as porters, while the LRA has forced young women into sexual slavery.

The most recent attacks took place in the village of Bagulupa, 55 kilometres east of Dungu. The village was attacked on February 10 and again on February 24, forcing most of the inhabitants to flee on foot towards Dungu, the main town of the Haut Uele district.

Most of the displaced have moved towards Dungu and to settlements for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the area. According to information gathered by UNHCR field staff, most new arrivals were already displaced by previous LRA attacks. Other civilians could be displaced in areas that humanitarian agencies cannot reach due to insecurity and poor road access.

The humanitarian situation of the displaced is harsh. Newly arrived IDPs in and around Dungu sleep in makeshift settlements. They lack clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. The situation of IDPs who fled to remote areas is almost certainly worse.

To alleviate the suffering of the displaced in Dungu territory, UNHCR recently distributed basic emergency items, such as plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets and kitchen sets, to some 200 newly displaced. The World Food Programme distributed food while NGOs provided medical care and agricultural tools. But more aid is needed.

UNHCR supports local and traditional authorities to help the displaced communities and to prevent further displacement. The refugee agency liaises with UN peace-keepers to strengthen the presence of security forces in affected areas.

From 2006 to 2011, a total of 831 attacks against civilians have been reported in the northern part of Orientale province. The vast majority of attacks are attributed to the LRA. More than 2,000 people are known to have been killed and 2,832 abducted, including 1,109 children.

Since 2008, the LRA's activity in the province has caused the internal displacement of some 320,000 people. During the same period, 30,000 Congolese refugees fled to the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

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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DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

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

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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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The 2013 winner of UNHCR`s Nansen Refugee Award is Sister Angelique Namaika, who works in the remote north east region of Democratic Republic of the Congo with survivors of displacement and abuse by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). She has helped over 2000 displaced women and girls who have suffered the most awful kidnapping and abuse, to pick up the pieces of their lives and become re-accepted by their communities.
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