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UNHCR to Distribute Aid to Thousands in DRC

The United Nations refugee agency says it plans to deliver emergency relief supplies this week to thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These people fled their homes in the northeast during the recent fighting between the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and troops from several governments in the region.

The U.N. refugee agency brought in five truckloads of relief supplies to the Congolese Orientale province earlier this week. The 700-kilometer trip took 11 days from the town of Bunia to Dungu district, which has been the scene of fierce fighting provoked by the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army.

Some 8,600 people were displaced during recent clashes. The armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and South Sudan jointly attacked the Lord's Resistance Army in an effort to chase the Ugandan rebel group out of the area. They did not achieve their goal.

UN says Lord's Resistance Army is fearsome presence in Dungu

The U.N. refugee agency says the LRA remains a fearsome presence in Dungu in Orientale Province. A spokeswoman, Helene Caux, says people fled their villages in the north of Dungu to escape the fighting and find safety in the south of the district.

"At the same time, we remain very concerned about the safety of hundreds of vulnerable families living in villages in the east and northeast of Dungu," she said. "These people, who include the elderly and the handicapped, are reportedly unable to make their way south to safety. Many of them are sleeping in the open and several are in acute need of medical assistance, food and shelter. We are currently unable to reach these locations because of the ongoing security."

The Lord's Resistance Army has been trying to overthrow the Ugandan government for more than two decades. They have abducted more than 10,000 children forcing them to become soldiers, laborers and sex slaves. Over the years, more than two million people have become internally displaced.

The LRA used to mount its attacks into Uganda from headquarters in southern Sudan. But, when the rebels lost favor with the government, they moved their base to the DRC. The people in Dungu are bearing the tragic brunt of their presence.

The United Nations reports more than 70,000 people are homeless and living in makeshift camps. Caux says the LRA continues to kidnap children. But, in a rare bit of good news, she says five children who were abducted by the LRA recently managed to escape.

"UNHCR and UNICEF traced their families in the Dungu district and a reunion will be organized in the coming days with their families," Caux said. "The children were abducted by the LRA in Duru, some 80 kilometers north of Dungu, during attacks in that area in September."

Kitchen sets, plastic sheets are part of UN relief

The UNHCR says it plans to distribute 23 tons of aid, including jerry cans, kitchen sets, and plastic sheets to the more than 8,000 people who became displaced during the recent fighting.

It reports about 15,000 Congolese refugees have crossed into southern Sudan. It says aid workers are unable to reach them because security near the border town of Yambio , where they are gathered, is very insecure.