Violence in North Kivu Displaces Tens of Thousands

More than 40,000 people have been uprooted in the latest outbreak of violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Media reports say fighting erupted between Government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to a former rebel commander, Bosco Ntaganda, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court. The fighting forced Ntaganda’s rebels to lose ground and reportedly retreat to Kirolirwe in the East.

Villagers from Bunagana, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s North Kivu province, walk through rainy weather toward the Ugandan border as they flee continued violence between Government FARDC forces and insurgent groups. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

To response to the needs of displaced persons, the United Nations refugee agency announced that the distribution of relief items will soon begin among those uprooted.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), most of the population displacement in the volatile North Kivu province is taking place in Rutshuru territory, north of the provincial capital, Goma.

A UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming reported that UNHCR and aid agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross, will soon start distributing relief supplies.

“Some of the displaced report cases of extortion, forced labour, forced recruitment of minors and beatings by armed men.” – Ms. Fleming

Reports say refugees have also continued to cross the border into neighbouring Rwanda.

UNHCR reports that on average, between 150 and 200 people have been crossing the border daily.

“We continue to provide assistance at the crowded centre in Rwanda as plans advance to construct a new refugee camp in the south of the country.” – Ms. Fleming

Shelter and health remain UNHCR’s key concerns, she added.

WFP is recently reinforcing its emergency operations to response to the latest displacements where it stressed the agency requires $36 million immediately to help an estimated 500,000 people until the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the fighting in eastern DRC in recent weeks between Government forces, dissident groups and militia, new inflows of refugees enter Rwanda and Uganda.

Reports say 30,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda this month. In addition, Uganda was already host to 175,127 refugees, including 97,424 from DRC.

The UN has voiced alarm at new inflows of refugees into Rwanda and Uganda who are fleeing fighting in eastern Congo.

According to UNHCR, more than 8,200 refugees have crossed from DRC into Rwanda since 27 April. These are in addition to the 55,000 Congolese refugees that Rwanda is already hosting.

Reports also stated that the recent Congo has caused suffering for civilians who are experiencing displacement, human rights violations, and loss of property.

UNHCR notes that the situation has worsened in recent months amid recent fighting between DRC forces and soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda.

Mr. Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes committed against civilians in eastern DRC.

On January this year, a fresh violence erupted in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), displacing more than 100,000 civilians the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.

The clashes are reported to have begun in November last year.

There were an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of July 2011, the vast majority of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. This included over 128,000 people newly displaced in the first quarter of 2011.

A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.