UNHCR urges protection for civilians amid fresh fighting in DR Congo

News Stories, 22 May 2013

Congolese children play outside a crude shelter in Mugunga III camp. People started fleeing the camp after artillery fire landed nearby.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 22 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Wednesday it was concerned about the latest outbreak of heavy fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and urged all parties to ensure the safety of civilians.

The fresh combat erupted early on Tuesday between government troops and fighters of the M23 movement in DRC's troubled North Kivu province. The two sides first clashed in April last year and subsequent waves of fighting have led to the internal displacement of tens of thousands of people, while more than 60,000 have sought shelter in Uganda and Rwanda.

This is the first major fighting between the two sides since the M23 captured the North Kivu capital, Goma, last November before withdrawing and entering into peace talks in Uganda with the government. These have achieved little.

In a press statement released on Wednesday, UNHCR said it was particularly concerned for the safety of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps around Goma. "Yesterday [Tuesday], shelling was reported close to the Mugunga III camp for IDPs, causing panic among the more than 13,000 inhabitants, mostly women and children. Six local people living near the camp were injured during the attacks," it said.

UNHCR added that Mugunga III "has been emptying, with the IDPs fleeing from Mugunga and heading towards Goma, some 15 kilometres to the east. Others are heading northwards to Sake, 10 kms away from the camp. Local residents are also reported to be fleeing from the Mugunga area."

The refugee agency also called on parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of all civilians, including displaced people. "The principle of distinguishing between military targets and the civilian population must be respected," the press release quoted Kouassi Etien, UNHCR's head of office in Goma, as saying.

According to UN estimates, there are more than 2.5 million forcibly displaced people in the DR Congo, including some 900,000 people in North Kivu. An estimated 350,000 displaced people currently live in about 55 IDP sites across North Kivu, with half of the camps located in areas affected by conflict. Others live with host families.




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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