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DRC: Growing insecurity causing more displacement in North Kivu

Briefing notes

DRC: Growing insecurity causing more displacement in North Kivu

24 February 2009

UNHCR remains extremely concerned about the increased violence against civilians in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 13 February, the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) has carried out numerous attacks in Masisi, Lubero and Walikale areas in North Kivu, sparking a new wave of displacement.

Local authorities have informed us that some 3,000 people have been internally displaced in Remeka village, some 20 km south of Masisi, following a recent FDLR attack. Some of these internally displaced people are staying in churches and schools and others have taken shelter at several UNHCR-assisted sites around the town of Masisi.

Today, a joint UN team is visiting Kitanga, on the outskirts of Masisi, to monitor and assess the needs of the newly displaced.

Using firearms and bush knives, the FDLR has attacked Kipopo, Remeka and Kamuobe near Masisi and Kanyatsi and Busigho near Lubero, killing civilians and raping women.

There are also growing fears of reprisal attacks by the FDLR against civilians suspected of collaborating with the joint DRC-Rwanda military operation against the rebel group that began in late January. The FDLR is composed mainly of Rwandan Hutus who arrived in the DRC in the wake of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Today, some 30 per cent of FDLR members are said to be Congolese Hutus.

The humanitarian situation in North Kivu is already dramatic, with some 850,000 internally displaced people. Of them, some 250,000 were forced to flee just since last August, and many of them have already been displaced multiple times.