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UN officials deplore deadly attack by rebels against displaced in DR Congo

UN officials deplore deadly attack by rebels against displaced in DR Congo

Displaced people on the grounds of a school in the Rutshuru area, North Kivu province
The United Nations refugee agency and its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today condemned an attack by armed Rwandan Hutu rebels on a camp for displaced persons in the eastern DRC that has killed at least six people and left many more injured.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced it was evacuating its staff and temporarily suspending operations in the Rutshuru area of North Kivu province, the scene of yesterday’s raid by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) on the Kinyandoni camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Media reports say at least six people were killed, possibly including two children, and 20 others – including two aid workers from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who were working with the UN agency – have been wounded.

Some of the injured are being treated at health-care facilities in Rutshuru, while others have been transferred to Goma, the provincial capital, according to UNHCR. All other aid agencies are also withdrawing their services from the area.

Eyewitness reports indicate the FDLR rebels started shooting indiscriminately at people inside the makeshift camp, which is home to about 5,000 IDPs, after robbing aid workers based at Kinyandoni late yesterday morning.

In a separate statement, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the DRC, Alan Doss, and representatives of the European Union and the United States condemned what they called a “terrorist act” by the FDLR.

Mr. Doss said the attack was either a war crime or a crime against humanity and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, whether at a Congolese or international level.

He stressed that MONUC would continue to support Congolese authorities’ efforts to restore State authority in the eastern DRC, which has been beset by violent unrest – often based along ethnic lines – in recent years, despite the official end to the country’s long-running civil war.

North Kivu is among the most volatile areas in the entire country, with about 860,000 IDPs living in the province. About a tenth of that group live in UNHCR-managed sites.