Ongoing rebel attacks in the eastern
DRC continue to displace thousands of civilians. The HUTU rebel group the FDLR
has been attacking towns and villages.
believed the attacks are in retaliation for a joint Congolese-Rwandan military
offensive that was launched against the rebel group in January. Rwanda
considers the FDLR a threat to its national security, since its members took
part in the 1994 genocide.
spokesman Andrej Mahecic, in Geneva, says, "There are continuing attacks by the
Hutu rebel group, the FDLR, and it's still causing displacement over a wide
area of the North Kivu Province.… We had already reported earlier this month
that basically since the end of the joint military operation the FDLR has been
on a rampage and has…attacked the civilians, attacked the villages…including
killing, looting, kidnapping and raping of civilians, also ambushing and
burning vehicles," he says.
most recent attacks have occurred in the Lubero territory, northeast of the
provincial capital of Goma, displacing 30,000 people in the last two weeks.
newly displaced families in this area report that the FDLR raids increased
during the first half of March and there are also numerous reports of human
rights violations," he says.
rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has also been attacking towns and
villages in the eastern DRC. Asked whether the FDLR attacks have increased
since the joint military operation against them, Mahecic says, "We are
witnessing a series of conflicts by the different parties and different
militias in the eastern Congo for…more than two years. It has been growing more
difficult by the day, (a) more dramatic situation. We are now basically at the
point where there are almost a million displaced in the North Kivu Province
alone. In the entire east of the DRC, there are 1.4 million displaced. So, the
situation is not just the result of one particular minor conflict or a minor series
UNHCR says "it's reinforcing its activities in Masisi and trying to establish a
presence" in Lubero," which would allow it to distribute emergency supplies
more quickly to the displaced.
says, "In the Masisi area, we are running four camps.… These camps are
basically the IDP (internally displaced persons) sites hosting people who had
been displaced during earlier conflicts in the North Kivu. However, there is
now more displacement there and also it's extremely difficult, at this point…to
move around this territory because it's so volatile and insecure."
While the UNHCR operates IDP camps,
many civilians have found shelter elsewhere, hoping to avoid further attacks.
Mahecic says, "Many people are in the bush. Many people are looking for the
safety in the bush, away from their homes and properties."
There are about dozen UNHCR IDP camps
in North Kivu sheltering about 111,000 people. "But the overall displacement…is
close to a million people. So, many families are sheltering themselves in
numerous makeshift sites across the province. They are also sometimes with host
families, with friends and relatives they have maybe in the area. Over the past
months, also, almost 50,000 Congolese have crossed into Uganda and sought shelter
there. So this is all a result of continued fighting in this area for more than
two past years," he says.