Raids by a Rwandan Hutu rebel group
have made the humanitarian crisis in the eastern DRC even worse. The FDLR has
launched frequent attacks ever since the Congolese and the Rwandan armies ended
a joint offensive against the group in mid-February.
latest towns and villages attacked or threatened include Luofo and Lubero, about
170 kilometers from Goma. The UNHCR says the insecurity is preventing emergency
supplies from reach those in need.
spokesman David Nthengwe in Goma says rebel raids on April 17th and
18th caused a lot of damage. Luofo was hit especially hard, with over 300 homes
destroyed. The FDLR is now threatening to attack again.
is the tactic they've been using. Before they attacked Luofo village, the local
authorities there told us that the rebel group actually had issued a threat to
say they will be coming to attack. And within two days they did attack and
seriously so. And…now they have issued another threat to say they will be attacking
Luofo village again. And so this is very worrying because...the people will be
going through what they've already been going through. They're already
displaced. Their homes burned. They cannot access any form of assistance as of
now. Their children are not in school. Their whole life situation has been
destabilized," he says.
if he knows where the displaced have fled, Nthengwe says, "The kind of
displacement that we see now is that a lot of people are being displaced –
probably in excess of 100,000 – but what is happening is they get attacked,
they run away. And then two days later when calm returns they get back their
villages. But in this situation where their homes are burned, they go back to
burned houses or they're going back to destroyed houses. So the movement of the
population once they're displaced is back and forth."
rising tensions are reported between the local population and displaced people,
who have made a makeshift camp in Kiwanja, near Rutshuru, about 80 kilometers
from Goma. Nthengwe says, "On Wednesday, apparently, there was a meeting
between the local civil society in the town and the residents to try and
resolve certain disputes and misunderstandings over criminals that are
reportedly in the site. After the local authorities had spoken to the group of
residents, people thought that the matter had been resolved, only to see them
marching towards the site where we have 11,000 displaced people. And they
attacked the site and destroyed several huts."
police and UN troops intervened to end the violence.
"These are some of the indications of
some tensions between displaced people coming from various ethnic groups.
Because some of the IDPs (internally displaced people) have actually said they
are not wanted in the area by the local residents. And this is worrying to
UNHCR because intolerance of this nature has been part of what's been going on
in eastern Congo for a long time now," he says.