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Displacement in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Briefing notes

Displacement in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

27 March 2009 Also available in:

UNHCR is seriously concerned about the plight of thousands of civilians who have fled their homes to escape daily attacks by the many armed groups operating in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Heavily armed militia from the so called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and an allied militia group, PARECO, have surrounded the village of Pinga, some 80 km north-east of Walikale in North Kivu. A joint UN assessment team, including UNHCR, which visited the area this week, has reported that FDLR and PARECO forces were sighted some 2 km on the south, west and north-west edges of Pinga, causing panic among its 8,500 population, including some 2,000 previously internally displaced persons.

According to local residents the armed groups have repeatedly raided villages in and around Pinga, robbing villagers of their meagre resources – basically food and money.

Meanwhile, further to the east, more than 20,000 people have been driven out Kirumba, Kayna and Kanyabonga villages in the Rutshuru district of North Kivu, by various armed groups over the past several weeks. The displaced fled into the forest after their homes were plundered and torched.

In the far north-eastern area of Haut Uele in Orientale province, a UNHCR convoy with 22 tonnes of much needed assistance destined for displaced people in Faradje was forced to turn back following reports of fresh Lords Resistance Army (LRA) attacks. The convoy, which had reached Kitambala, was forced to turn back to Aru on the DRC-Uganda border yesterday because of reported LRA attacks this week in Tadu, Munia and Sururu, some 80 km south of Faradje. The situation in Faradje is said to be tense and residents have begun to flee the town.

Further LRA attacks have also been reported in Amadi and Banda in the neighbouring district of Bas Uele. Local authorities say there is a heavy concentration of internally displaced people in the town of Dingila, where they have already registered some 2,800 displaced persons. The majority of the displaced are staying with host families, but others have sought refuge in the town's churches. Another 11,000 who left Banda have fled to Dakwa, 85 km from Banda, and some 6,000 to Amadi.

The various rebel attacks in North Kivu have since last year displaced over 250,000 people, while in Orientale region, nearly 190,000 have been displaced in the last six months, and some 16,000 refugees have fled to South Sudan.