Rebel raids displace more than 100,000 civilians in eastern Congo

News Stories, 21 April 2009

© UNHCR/S.Schulman
On the Run: Displaced Congolese ponder their future in North Kivu.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 21 (UNHCR) More than 100,000 Congolese civilians have been displaced in the volatile province of North Kivu over the past seven weeks as a result of raids by rebels who recently fought the armies of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A series of concerted attacks carried out by the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) against civilians in the villages of Luofu, Kirumba, Kanyabonga and Kayna near Lubero, 170 kilometres north of the provincial capital of Goma, have left a trail of death and destruction and caused recurrent displacement.

According to the local authorities, the FDLR raided Luofu on Friday, killing two adults and five children and burning 255 homes. The panic-stricken residents spent the night in the bush while some fled to the nearby town of Kirumba. However, the FDLR has reportedly encircled the town since Sunday, threatening to overrun it.

Many of the displaced are hiding in the forest and are without assistance. At the same time, humanitarian agencies are unable to distribute essential aid because of the unpredictable nature of the attacks and the displacement. Another factor that adds to the prevailing insecurity is the FDLR tactic of attacking commercial vehicles on the main road linking Lubero to Goma in the south, to Beni in the north and to the Ugandan border to the east.

Displaced civilians who spoke to UNHCR were worried about the situation "We do not know what to do now. We run every day, we sleep in the forest, we fear attacks," said a shopkeeper.

The FDLR stepped up reprisal attacks against civilians in North Kivu after the armed forces of the DRC and Rwanda completed a joint military offensive against the rebel group some seven weeks ago. The FDLR is composed mainly of Rwandan Hutus who arrived in the DRC in the wake of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

With the latest surge in violence, UNHCR estimates there are now more than 1.4 million displaced people across the eastern DRC. Out of this total, almost a million have been driven from their homes in North Kivu alone by relentless fighting, general lawlessness, looting, destruction of homes and camps, killings and rapes.

Many of these people have been displaced more than once and families are often separated. The lawlessness and insecurity continues to affect aid operations, which are also hampered by the sheer size and scope of the displacement crisis in the eastern DRC.

By David Nthengwe in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo




Internally Displaced People

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

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

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

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.
Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.
DR Congo: Tears of RapePlay video

DR Congo: Tears of Rape

Eastern DRC remains one of the most dangerous places in Africa, particularly for women.