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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Kivu displacement spreading

Briefing notes

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Kivu displacement spreading

21 September 2007

According to assessments by several UN agencies and NGOs, there are some 65,000 displaced Congolese in the Muganga area west of Goma out of at least 90,000 newly displaced in North Kivu province since early September. Overall, the troubled North Kivu province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is facing the worst displacement in over three years, with some 300,000 Congolese uprooted since December 2006. UNHCR and the DRC authorities are engaged in an ongoing distribution of assistance at the Bulengo IDP site, some 15 kilometres west of Goma. The exercise started on Wednesday and has so far benefited 7,860 displaced at the Bulengo site. The assistance includes plastic sheets, kitchen sets, blankets, buckets, soap as well as rice, oil, maize flour and salt. The DRC Government donated 10 tonnes of relief items, plastic sheets and food. UNHCR contributed some 500 supplementary plastic sheets. In addition to the regular team, UNHCR has deployed extra staff.

During his surprise visit to Goma on Wednesday, President Kabila met with humanitarian agencies to discuss the needs of those affected by the North Kivu crisis. The discussion focused on the need to improve access for humanitarian workers and to protect civilians from armed groups. The UNHCR-established Bulengo site, now hosting over 1,500 families, has grown over the past week, as more displaced arrive from villages and makeshift camps in the surrounding areas. UNHCR is expanding the capacity. Each displaced family is allocated a small plot for a temporary shelter. There are still not enough latrines and water access points but we are working with partner agencies on more facilities. Together with the World Wildlife Fund, UNHCR has scheduled a distribution of firewood at the Bulengo site to mitigate deforestation around the site, where the displaced gather firewood and construction materials.

Access to displaced populations has improved somewhat in a few areas, but in general remains difficult due to the security situation. Over past days we were able to visit Sake town, some 35 kilometres west of Goma, as well as areas in Masisi and Rutshuru districts. Few displaced have returned to Sake, where UN peacekeepers were deployed. In Rutshuru, an inter-agency mission found some displaced are heading back to their villages. Our teams on the Ugandan side of the border report that Bunagana and Busanza crossings are calm as virtually all Congolese refugees have returned to DRC. At Nyakabanda Reception Centre, 20 kilometres inside Uganda, there are less than 300 Congolese refugees. In recent days 216 people were transferred from Nyakabanda to Nakivale refugee settlement and a hundred more will be moved there on Monday. After this transfer Nyakabanda reception centre will be closed.