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UNHCR concern over security for IDPs in eastern Congo

Briefing notes

UNHCR concern over security for IDPs in eastern Congo

4 December 2012 Also available in:

UNHCR is worried for the security of displaced people and aid workers in camps in eastern Congo after an attack on Saturday at the Mugunga III camp outside Goma. There were no deaths or serious injuries although one person was badly beaten. People's homes as well as the camp pharmacy were looted. There were six unconfirmed cases of rape.

Witnesses say a small group of men from outside the camp were seen monitoring food distribution earlier in the day. A few hours later, the camp was surrounded by a large number of armed men. They told a woman to take them to the camp leader, and then beat her. The armed men then searched tents, stealing money, mobile phones, and food that had been handed out earlier by WFP. Looting was also reported among the population living immediately adjacent to the camp.

The reports of six rape cases are being investigated. It is also reported that around a dozen IDPs were forced to carry looted materials out of the camp, before being freed. The few police were unable to intervene, while MONUSCO troops - also facing capacity constraints - were not in a position to maintain a permanent presence at the site. UNHCR staff who visited the camp yesterday (Monday) said people in the camp were still anxious and upset.

The incident highlights the need for security at sites for internally displaced people to be prioritized, along with improved humanitarian access so that such populations can be better cared for. At least 30,000 people are currently at the Mugunga III camp, while some 75,000 more are staying in sites under the responsibility of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management cluster. The rest are living in spontaneous sites or with host communities.

As well as security difficulties at Mugunga III and elsewhere in North and South Kivu, UNHCR is also contending with shortages of shelters and non-food items. Some 12,000 highly vulnerable families are in urgent need of non-food help (blankets, kitchen sets, tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, soap, and sanitary napkins). We also need shelter for 47,000 highly vulnerable households.

According to UN figures 130,000 people have been newly displaced by the recent instability in and around Goma. This is on top of the estimated 841,000 people who were already displaced before this latest wave of insecurity.

In South Kivu, according to OCHA figures, some 878,000 people were displaced by the end of October 2012. The overwhelming majority of them (more than 96 per cent) are living in host communities. The fighting around Sake in North Kivu forced an estimated 18,500 people into South Kivu, mostly around Minova. UNHCR emphasizes that these figures are preliminary only, as they do not take into account the fact that some people may have been displaced multiple times (and thus could be counted twice) or the recent returns.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Kinshasa: Simplice Kpandji on mobile +243 81 833 1322
  • In Goma: Gloria Ramazani on mobile +243 99 426 2152
  • In Geneva: Leo Dobbs on mobile: +41 79 883 6347