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DRC: UN team reaches towns attacked by Lord's Resistance Army

Briefing notes

DRC: UN team reaches towns attacked by Lord's Resistance Army

6 January 2009

A UNHCR team and other UN colleagues carried out a mission over the weekend to the towns of Tadu and Faradje in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Oriental Province.The area has been the scene of bloody attacks over the past few weeks by the so-called Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Faradje, some 100 km west of the border between the DRC, Sudan and Uganda, was attacked on 25-26 December. Another village, Nagero, 24 km north-west of Faradje, came under attack on Saturday.

According to initial estimates, up to 500 Congolese civilians were killed in various attacks in the region, which followed the launch of a joint operation of Congolese, Sudanese and Ugandan armed forces against the LRA on 14 December. The UN estimates more than 50,000 people have been displaced since mid-December, which is in addition to the 50,000 displaced by an earlier escalation of violence between September and November last year.

This morning, we received a sketchy report of another attack yesterday on the village of Napopo in which up to eight people were killed and houses set ablaze. An unknown number of people were reportedly kidnapped. Reports say the attack would have generated even more displacement in the region.

The LRA's Christmas attack on Faradje and its surroundings left more than 70 dead and an estimated 37,000 displaced. Most of them are still hiding in the bush. Some of the displaced moved towards Tadu, a town 37 km south of Faradje where more than a 1,000 displaced people have already been registered, mostly women and children.

According to the displaced from Faradje and the local NGOs, 225 people, including 160 children, have been kidnapped by the LRA and more than 80 women raped. In the subsequent attack on Nagero this weekend, at least eight people were killed and another 3,500 displaced. Since Sunday, they have been seeking shelter in Faradje. The mission reported that people in the district are shocked and traumatized by the brutality of the attacks. Our mission found Faradje pillaged and destroyed by fire. More than 800 houses, three schools, government buildings and medical facilities were burned. Most of Faradje's households lost their annual harvest in the fire.

Our team met with local NGOs and the registration of the newly displaced population is presently ongoing in Tadu, Faradje and the neighbouring villages. The population is in dire need of food, shelter, medicines, clothes and other aid items. However, the area remains highly volatile and insecurity is a key obstacle for access by us and other agencies. We are working with the local authorities and other agencies on finding ways of managing assistance in these inaccessible areas.