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Attacks by Hutu rebels causing displacement in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Briefing notes

Attacks by Hutu rebels causing displacement in Democratic Republic of the Congo

20 March 2009

Attacks by the Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, are still causing displacement over a wide area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province.

On 20 January, Congolese and Rwandan forces launched an offensive to forcefully disarm the FDLR, considered by Rwanda as a major threat to its national security. FDLR has been retaliating against the civilian population and has launched sporadic attacks on villages in North Kivu.

In North Kivu's Lubero territory, fresh attacks on civilians by the FDLR have displaced nearly 30,000 people over the past two weeks, according to local authorities. Newly displaced families in the Lubero area report that FDLR raids increased during the first half of March, along with growing human rights violations. UNHCR is reinforcing its activities in Masisi and trying to establish presence in Lubero for the swift delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection.

Further south, local authorities in Masisi territory said the FDLR mounted attacks that killed at least three civilians on March 15 on the Kashebere-Nyabyondo road south of Masisi town. As a result of these fresh attacks, an unknown number of IDPs fled to Masisi town the following day and more continue to arrive. The local authorities in Kikoma, 74 km south of Masisi town, report that villagers are fleeing in all directions following FDLR attacks on 16 March. According to the Congolese authorities in Masisi, the rebel group has issued a threat saying it will continue to attack.

In Rutshuru, some 80 km north of Goma, armed men attacked and looted a vehicle belonging to an international NGO on 18 March. No fatalities reported. It was the latest attack on humanitarian workers in the area and UNHCR is concerned that the continuing violence against aid agencies will only slow the delivery of assistance to the displaced population in need.

Most of the displaced from the continuing FDLR attacks are spending their nights in the bush for fear of attacks and harassment.

The FDLR fighting has left more than 160,000 civilians displaced since mid-January. Altogether, an estimated 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu by a series of conflicts.