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DRC: UNHCR and other aid agencies visit the area

Briefing notes

DRC: UNHCR and other aid agencies visit the area

5 December 2008

A period of relative calm in the Rutshuru area, some 80 km north of Goma the provincial capital of the volatile North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has permitted UNHCR and other aid agencies to visit the area this week.

Our team was able to assess the situation of some 5,000 displaced people (IDPs) sheltering around the UN peacekeeping (MONUC) base there. Congolese civilians told UNHCR they fear reprisals and cannot go back to their homes. They alleged numerous atrocities and summary killings. The group is in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

UNHCR was also able to visit for the first time three former makeshift IDP sites - Kinyondoni Anglican, Kinyondoni Catholic and Ngwenda. As feared, we found these sites empty. The three UNHCR-run IDP sites in that area - Nyongera, Kasasa and Dumez - were forcefully emptied and destroyed some weeks ago. With the latest findings, the total number of IDPs who cannot be accounted for in the area has surpassed 90,000.

We were able to distribute emergency aid items to more than 10,000 needy people among the displaced from the destroyed sites around Rutshuru. Displaced Congolese civilians around Tongo, east of Rutshuru, received 3,000 kits - including blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets - for some 15,000 persons. Displaced Congolese civilians in other surrounding areas, including Kishishe, Nyanzale and Kashilira, have received more than 7,600 aid kits for nearly 40,000 people.

In the Province Oriental region, local authorities in Kisangani told us they have identified some 2,000 IDPs who fled recent attacks of the Lord's Resistance Army, the Ugandan rebel group. The group fled the town of Dungu in the Haut Uele area. They are now staying with host families, while many more are in schools and other public buildings in several locations in the province.

The authorities have also confirmed the presence of some 2,000 displaced persons from Dungu at Isiro, north-west of Bunia in Ituri region. Another 11,000 IDPs were reported at Niangara, 120 km from Isiro and 215 km from Dungu. More displaced persons, some 10,000, were located at Banda on the route to South Sudan. Some 25,000 IDPs have also found shelter in the village of Ngedu, some 45 kilometres from Dungu.

In Goma, meanwhile, we are continuing voluntary transfers of vulnerable IDPs from Kibati camps north of the city to existing IDP sites to the west. Some 65,000 IDPs in Kibati camps are in an extremely precarious situation because of the close proximity of the warring sides. Close to 1,000 vulnerable people with specific needs have so far been relocated.

Construction work on the new Mugunga III site continues following a decision by local authorities to enlarge the site from 65 to 105 hectares, allowing accommodation for some 60,000 people.

Troops of the UN mission in the Congo have also started patrolling the Kibati site for possible intervention when populations come under attack by looting soldiers or to protect women from sexual assault by armed soldiers.