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DRC: new LRA attacks force Congolese to flee to Southern Sudan

Briefing notes

DRC: new LRA attacks force Congolese to flee to Southern Sudan

10 February 2009

At least six people were killed and another 21 kidnapped Saturday night in an attack by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's resistance Army (LRA), on the town of Aba in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The LRA rebels also plundered the local Protestant parish and hospital.

This latest attack sent thousands of Congolese fleeing to Southern Sudan. According to our team in Southern Sudan, some 5,000 Congolese refugees from Alba arrived over the weekend in the town of Lasu, some 50 km from the DRC border. They said thousands more are on the way. The refugees told UNHCR staff in Lasu on Sunday that 90 per cent of Aba's 100,000 population had fled the town and many more could be expected to arrive in Southern Sudan in the next few days. Our team witnessed large concentrations of refugees in three locations along the Lasu-Yei road. The new arrivals are occupying schools and church buildings along the road.

People in DRC's north-eastern Oriental province have been exposed to brutal and deadly attacks by the LRA since last September. A rough estimate of the total number of people forcefully displaced since then now stands at almost 150,000. Some 900 Congolese have been killed by the Ugandan rebel group over the past five months in the north-east.

Meanwhile, our team in Dungu, a regional centre in the Haut Uele territory of the north-east DRC, trained 60 local Red Cross officials and others on conducting a re-registration exercise in the neighbouring villages around Dungu. The aim of the exercise is to obtain more accurate information about the displaced population and their intentions.

Relative calm is returning to areas around Dungu and our partners report the first signs of return to a number of villages north of the town. We continue to rush aid to the area. Over the weekend a second convoy of 14 trucks brought another shipment of plastic sheeting, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets and soaps. These aid items will be distributed to the displaced population sheltering in the villages south of Dungu.