UNHCR deplores killing of staff member in eastern Congo

News Stories, 21 May 2012

© MONUC/MarieFrechon
A scene of displaced people in North Kivu province's Rutshuru region. Rocky worked as a field safety adviser in the area for UNHCR.

GENEVA, May 21 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres on Monday deplored the killing of a UNHCR staff member in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rocky Makabuza died on Saturday in the North Kivu provincial capital after sustaining gunshot wounds to his stomach in an attack at his home by unknown assailants on Friday night.

Rocky, who was aged 38, was a field safety assistant for UNHCR at its office in Rutshuru, north of Goma. He was taken to hospital after the shooting, but died of his wounds. Neither the identity of his assailants nor the motives for the attack have been established.

"I deplore the shooting of a colleague and offer my sincere condolences to his family. We do not know who is responsible for Rocky's death or why they attacked him. I hope that the authorities will do their best to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice," said Guterres.

Rocky had been working for UNHCR since 2009. He is survived by his wife and three children.

His death comes at a volatile time in North Kivu, where fighting in recent weeks between government forces and renegade troops has forced large numbers of people to flee their homes, with thousands seeking shelter in neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

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Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Waves of fighting in eastern Democratic of the Republic since late April have displaced tens of thousands of people. Many have become internally displaced within the province, while others have fled to south-west Uganda's Kisoro district or to Rwanda via the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.

The stop-start clashes between government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda began in the province's Masisi and Walikale territories, but subsequently shifted to Rutshuru territory, which borders Uganda.

Between May 10-20, one of UNHCR's local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

The IDPs are living in difficult conditions, staying in school buildings and churches or with host families. They lack food and shelter and have limited access to health facilities. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, beatings and recruitment of minors to fight.

UNHCR and other major aid organizations plan to distribute food, medicine and other aid. More than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in North and South Kivu since the start of the year, according to UN figures.

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in 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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