UNHCR transports fresh aid supplies for displaced in North Kivu

News Stories, 11 November 2008

© UNHCR/P.Taggart
A young boy rests on the floor inside his family's makeshift shelter in Kibati.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 11 (UNHCR) While the situation remains volatile in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN refugee agency has been transporting aid supplies for thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu province.

On Monday, a UNHCR-chartered plane carrying 36 tonnes of relief supplies from the agency's central emergency stockpile in Dubai arrived in Entebbe airport. From there, some 1,500 bales of plastic sheeting and three prefabricated warehouses will be flown on Wednesday to Goma, provincial capital of North Kivu.

The rest of the items (3,000 jerry cans, 2,650 plastic sheets, 7,500 blankets and 1,500 kitchen sets) will be moved by road from Entebbe to Bunia, in the DRC. UNHCR has already trucked in non-food items for some 50,000 people from a regional warehouse in Ngara, Tanzania.

The distribution of the non-food items will commence once the World Food Programme has completed a food distribution, probably on Wednesday. Priority will be given to new arrivals.

Despite some shooting reported on Sunday, no major population movements have been reported in Kibati camp on the northern outskirts of Goma. But a UNHCR spokesman said: "We remain extremely concerned about the security of 67,500 internally displaced Congolese civilians in the two Kibati camps."

Most of the displaced, 65,000, are in Kibati I camp, but UNHCR has moved 743 families to Kibati II and more transfers are expected in the coming days to ease the pressure on Kibati I. UNHCR has also erected six large portable warehouse tents as emergency shelter at Kibati for some 1,200 people.

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has again appealed to all sides in the conflict to respect the civilian character of the camps, to respect humanitarian principles and to ensure the safety of civilians and humanitarian workers.

UNHCR is also extremely concerned over the reported displacement of thousands of people in Rutshuru and Kanyabayonga, north of Goma, where access is not possible because of continuing insecurity.

Meanwhile, a UNHCR team on Tuesday went to visit some 3,000 Congolese refugees who crossed into Uganda after fleeing from the Ishasha area. Some 13,500 to 15,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda to escape the latest fighting.

Fighting in North Kivu intensified at the end of 2006. By January 2008, it had brought the total number of IDPs in the region to more than 800,000. Since the fighting resumed in August, some 250,000 civilians have fled, many of them already displaced.

By David Nthengwe in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo