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UN Finds Scenes of Desolation in Congo Area Attacked by Rebels


U.N. aid agencies say thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Orientale Province are living in a state of shock and utter desolation.

During the weekend, a joint U.N. mission visited the towns of Tadu and Faradje in the province. Faradje is about 100 kilometers west of the border between the DRC, Sudan and Uganda. The U.N. says it was one of three villages that was brutally attacked by the Lord's Resistance Army December 25 and 26.

The United Nations estimates up to 500 Congolese civilians were killed in these attacks. This followed a joint military operation launched by the Congolese, Sudanese and Ugandan armed forces against the LRA on December 14.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Ron Redmond, tells VOA more than 100,000 people have been displaced since September, with 50,000 of them since mid-December.

"The Christmas attack on the town of Faradje and its surroundings left more than 70 people dead, just in that area and an estimated 37,000 people were displaced, most of them are still hiding in the bush according to the residents that UNHCR was able to speak to ... According to the displaced from Faradje, about 225 people including 160 children have been kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army and more than 80 women raped," said Ron Redmond.

The Lord's Resistance Army has been trying to topple the Ugandan government for more than two decades. During that time, it has displaced about two million people and kidnapped more than 10,000 children, who were forced to become soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

Since the group lost favor with the government in southern Sudan, it has moved its base to eastern DRC.

Redmond says the LRA recently attacked the villages of Napopo and Nagero.

"These people have been seeking shelter wherever they can find it," he said. "Our staff reported that people in that district are shocked and traumatized by the brutality of these attacks. Our mission found that the town of Faradje had been pillaged and destroyed by fire. More than 800 houses, three schools, government buildings and medical facilities were burned and most of the families in the town lost their annual harvest in this fire as well. So, they are going to need a lot of ongoing assistance."

Redmond says the people are in dire need of food, shelter, medicines, clothes and other aid items. But he says the area remains highly volatile and insecurity will likely hamper humanitarian assistance.

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