• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

More than 3,000 Congolese flee insecurity, suffering in North Kivu

News Stories, 9 March 2012

© UNHCR/J.Akena
These villagers carry their belongings as they head towards the border with Uganda during an earlier exodus from North Kivu province.

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 9 (UNHCR) More than 3,000 Congolese civilians have fled into Uganda from Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province to escape fresh fighting since the beginning of this year.

"UNHCR is concerned that more people will be forced to flee" if the insecurity and clashes continue, a spokesman said on Friday. "Those arriving in Uganda are mostly farming people, and we are hearing from them accounts of abductions, looting, harassment, and rape," he added.

People are crossing into Kisoro district in south-western Uganda. Most of them originate from North Kivu's Rutshuru district. However, some are coming from Masisi and Walikale territories, located further inside North Kivu about 200 kilometres and 350 kilometres from Uganda respectively.

Some of the refugees told UNHCR staff that following nightly attacks by armed men, whole villages had fled.

In Kisoro, UNHCR staff heard from a Congolese man who described how he was sexually assaulted by several armed men after being forced to witness his wife being gang raped. His daughter, who resisted, was killed by the same group.

UNHCR has opened a transit centre in Nyakabande, Kisoro district, with capacity for 1,000 people. The centre provides tented accommodation, water and sanitation facilities, cooked meals and basic medical care.

Meanwhile, UNHCR is supporting local health centres by providing essential drugs, water and furniture. "We regularly transport refugees from the transit centre to Nakivale and Oruchinga settlements, which already host Congolese refugees, some of whom have been in Uganda since the civil war of the 1990s, as well as people of several other nationalities," the spokesman said.

UNHCR fears that further deterioration of the security situation will stall the tripartite process initiated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and UNHCR in October 2010 to pave the way for the voluntary return of Congolese refugees living in Uganda. When the tripartite agreement was signed, 32,000 out of the 81,000 Congolese refugees living in Uganda had expressed a wish to return home. More than 7,000 returned spontaneously 2010 and 2011. Renewed violence is forcing many of them back to Uganda.

Fighting involving government troops, rebel forces and local defence groups in the DRC's eastern region has forced more than 100,000 civilians out of their homes since late November. Most are in North Kivu, where some 600,000 people are internally displaced, over one-third of the 1.7 million IDPs countrywide.

By Fatamouta Lejeune-Kaba




A Time Between: Moving on from Internal Displacement in Uganda

This document examines the situation of IDPs in Acholiland in northern Uganda, through the stories of individuals who have lived through conflict and displacement.

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

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

Donate to this crisis

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

On August 5, 2002, some 24,000 Sudanese refugees fled their homes in Achol-Pii camp in northern Uganda after a bloody attack by the Lord's Liberation Army rebel group. More than 60 refugees and many local villagers were killed in the attack.

Fearing further violence, displaced refugees trekked overnight to Lira, from where UNHCR trucked them to Kiryondongo, 100 km to the south-west. Kiryondongo site, a settlement already hosting 13,000 refugees, was temporarily extended to accommodate the Achol-Pii survivors until another site could be prepared.

Arriving families were initially accommodated at an expanded reception centre at Kiryondongo. After being registered, the new arrivals received UNHCR plastic sheeting, an emergency food ration and a 20 x 15-metre plot per family to build their own temporary shelter. UNHCR also distributed blankets and jerry cans. Additional latrines were also dug, new water pumps installed and a new emergency clinic was set up.

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

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

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.
Uganda: Unique Approach For South SudanesePlay video

Uganda: Unique Approach For South Sudanese

Uganda has taken in thousands of South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict. The government is helping the new arrivals by giving them land on which to build a shelter.
Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate
Play video

Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate

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.