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Rebel Groups Hamper DRC Humanitarian Aid Efforts

Attacks from two rebel groups continue to disrupt and delay humanitarian aid operations in the DRC. In North Kivu Province, about 160 thousand people have been displaced since January following attacks by the Hutu-based FDLR rebels. And in Orientale Province in the northeast, attacks by Ugandan LRA rebels have displaced tens of thousands.

World Food Program Jim Farrell, in Goma, describes the situation in North Kivu, saying, "The Hutu militia – that's the FDLR, the people who've been entrenched here ever since the 1994 Rwandan genocide -- have been beaten further back into the bush. However, in retaliation from the push that they got from combined Rwandan and Congolese troops, they've been raiding local villages, killing, looting and creating a new surge of internally displaced people (IDPs)…so that WFP and the other agencies have been sending evaluation teams up through there, figuring out just how bad this new IDP situation is."

However, the region is very isolated and has very poor roads, making it difficult to travel and transport emergency supplies.

There is some good news to report on North Kivu Province. North of Goma, up through the Rutshuru and Lubero Districts, Farrell says, "The CNDP (rebel) militia basically laid down their arms and offered to either collaborate with the Congolese army or merge with the Congolese army, or a lot of the soldiers…are simply being disarmed. So there's an increased amount of security up in those areas."

As a result, more displaced Congolese are returning to their towns and villages in those areas from Goma.

"It's a challenge for the various aid agencies, including the WFP, because these people are returning to devastated areas. They will be needing some of the necessities of life: cooking pots, plastic sheeting for roofing, mattresses…tools to till their fields…seeds. And until their first crops come in, they are going to be needing food," he says.

As for northeastern DRC, the scene of LRA attacks, Farrell says, "It still remains really pathetic. Raids on scattered villages are continuing, a new village seemingly every second day or repeat villages. However, several days ago, we did have a food convoy that arrived up in the border area of Congo and Sudan. That was a food convoy that had to start from Kampala, Uganda, go through the south fringe of Sudan and then into that border area, because that border area is unreachable from the southern regions. So, the food is starting to go in, but…it's going to be a massive relief effort stretched over many months."