UN continues assisting displaced in volatile eastern DR Congo

5 January 2009
WFP carries out operation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

The United Nations is continuing to rush assistance to help those uprooted by clashes in the war-torn far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including victims of violence at the hands of the notorious Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Since 28 December, more than 300 people have been killed during LRA attacks in north-eastern DRC, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the National Refugee Commission.

There is no information yet from nine villages occupied for two days by the LRA. Congolese armed forces, known as FARDC, are deployed in several villages to ensure the safety of civilians, but no military presence has been set up in the high-risk zone of Bangadi.

The LRA, which has been fighting Ugandan forces since the 1980s and has since spilled over into Sudan and DRC, are notorious for human rights abuses including the killing and maiming of civilians, and the abduction and recruitment of children as soldiers and sex slaves.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed more than 20 tons of food to 7,300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their host families affected by LRA violence.

In North Kivu province – where hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in recent months due to stepped up fighting between FARDC and a rebel group militia known as the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP), among others – armed groups have blocked the road between the capital Goma and the town of Rutshuru.

This has led to further displacements, and houses are reported to have been looted. Aid agencies have sounded the alarm on the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as on the large number of unaccompanied children who lack the necessary protection and the food needs among IDPs.

UNCHR said that nearly 4,000 people were transferred from a camp in Kibati, north of Goma, to settlements in Mugunga, but noted that all have since returned to Kibati.

WFP plans to distribute 90 tons of food to a camp housing over 1,000 people in Bambu camp which has experienced a large fire.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that cholera, measles, sexually transmitted diseases and malnutrition are the key concerns for the aid workers in the region.


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