UNHCR condemns killing of civilians in Eastern DRC, seeing new displacement into Burundi

Briefing Notes, 27 August 2013

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 27 August 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR joins other UN agencies in condemning the killing of civilians during fighting this past weekend between the Congolese Army (FARDC) and the M23 rebel group around Goma, the capital of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

At least three people were killed and five others wounded on Saturday morning (24 August) when a shell landed in Ndosho, a suburb of Goma. Goma is packed with civilians because more than 150,000 people have been displaced towards the city since 2012.

Another shell fell Saturday near the Mugunga 3 camp, which shelters more than 14,000 internally displaced people. On 22 August, numerous shells landed in residential areas of Goma, killing at least four people and wounding 15 all civilians.

We remind all parties to the conflict that indiscriminate or deliberate attacks against civilians are war crimes. Civilians must not be targeted.

Elsewhere in eastern DRC, we are seeing a flaring of a longstanding conflict in the Ruzizi Plain, on the border of South Kivu and Burundi. Conflict there re-erupted in April 2012, but has sent 1,500 asylum-seekers into Burundi over the last 12 days. Asylum-seekers, fleeing the Sange, Mutalule, and Rwanena areas of the Ruzizi Plain, tell us that unidentified armed people killed eight people and seriously wounded many more.

The asylum seekers are being temporarily hosted at the Cishemere Transit Centre, in Burundi's western province of Cibitoke. Many of them who were hosted by Burundian families in the commune of Buganda have been moved to the transit centre where they can be better assisted. So far we have transferred 174 people to Kavumu Refugee Camp in the eastern province of Cankuzo, and some 341 others are on their way there.

We are still seeing people arriving in Burundi, about 60 per day, down from 150 to 200 per day last week. About 60 per cent are children.

Meanwhile, Uganda is still hosting some 50,000 Congolese refugees who fled fighting in North Kivu in mid-July. Refugees are continuing to come on their own from the border to the transit centre at Bubukwanga in western Uganda. Despite the fact that we have already transferred more than 3,000 people to better facilities at the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in mid-western Uganda, 21,344 people remain at the transit centre. A further 20,000 refugees who are staying with relatives or host families inside the Ugandan border also require help.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi, Kitty McKinsey at +254 735 337 608 or mckinsey@unhcr.org
  • In Kinshasa, Celine Schmitt at +243 81 700 94 84 or schmittc@unhcr.org
  • In Bujumbura, Bernard Ntwari at +257 7991 89 02 or ntwarib@unhcr.org
  • In Geneva, Daniel MacIsaac at +41 79 200 76 17 or macisaac@unhcr.org
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