U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, is ready to transfer tens of thousands of people in
the eastern DRC to safer locations. The agency says residents of the Kibati
camp in North Kivu Province live in fear of attacks and looting by various
spokesman David Nthengwe says at least half of Kibati's 65,000 residents are
expected to be re-located. Right now, they're close to the frontlines of
fighting between government troops and rebels. And armed fighters are frequent
uninvited visitors. Nthengwe describes some of the violence at Kibati in the
past two weeks.
of shooting nearby, many of them panicked and started fleeing towards Goma
town. And then last week, at night, soldiers looted the camp and they started
shooting in the air. And soldiers attempted to kidnap one lady. In the process
they were shooting again and another lady was shot apparently by a stray bullet
and she died immediately," he says.
is currently working on a new site where most of those, who leave Kibati, will
eventually be transferred. It's called Mugunga III. But Nthengwe says there's
much work to be done before it's ready for occupancy.
what we've done so far is to level some of the areas. As you know, Goma is a
volcanic area and in 2002 there was this eruption. So the surface of Goma, the
entire town, is covered in hard rock, this lava rock. So, our priority has been
to try and establish facilities for the camp – toilets, water system and to
make sure that the mapping of the plots for the people to shelter themselves is
also done," he says.
until Mugunga III is ready, some displaced persons voluntarily leaving the
Kibati camp will be taken to other existing camps.
says, "For those scheduled to go to Bulengo and Buhimba and Mugunga I and II,
these are vulnerable persons. We would like to move these ones first because
they'll be moving in existing camps, where services are already running. And
then in time, we will be finishing Mugunga III and that's when we'll start now
moving the other category of the population to the new site, when the
facilities are ready."
very young and the elderly will be moved to the new locations by truck. The
rest will walk the 15 kilometers. Aid stations will be set up along the route.
have also identified way stations, possible areas where we will set up way
stations for people to have water, for people to help themselves if they need
to relieve themselves. We will place there some high-energy biscuits. And then
there will also be medical personnel on the way for the sick, while MONUC
peacekeepers will also be positioned along the route for the safety of these
people," Nthengwe says.
U.N. peacekeepers are also starting night patrols around the Kibati camp to try
to stop looting and violence, including widespread rape. Aid agencies blame all
armed groups for the sexual assaults.
Meanwhile, in South Kivu Province, UNHCR is moving to
help tens of thousands of displaced people. It's planning to build a camp at
Minova, close to the border with North Kivu.