The United Nations refugee agency says it is extremely concerned for
the safety of internally displaced people living in camps in eastern
Democratic Republic of Congo. The UNHCR says the violence around Goma,
the provincial capital of North Kivu has spilled over into the nearby
The U.N. refugee agency said Friday that two young girls were shot in one of the two camps near Goma. It says a five-year-old child died and a seven-year-old girl is fighting for her life in a local hospital.
In addition, UNHCR Spokesman, Ron Redmond, says a woman was raped by armed men in the vicinity of Kibati camp Thursday evening.
"There is security in and around the camp. MONUC, the U.N. forces are there," he said. "But, there are a lot of armed people around there. A lot of other people with guns and it is an extremely difficult environment to police. So, that is why we are urging these people to voluntarily move to the Mugunga sites further to the South and the West."
A few weeks ago, the UNHCR began moving displaced Congolese civilians from the Kibati camps, and away from the confrontation line, to a new camp at Mugunga III, just west of Goma.
Redmond says the warring parties
maintain their positions close to the camps. And, this, he says is
putting some 65,000 internally displaced people at risk.
Since fighting between Congolese government forces and troops loyal to renegade leader, Laurent Nkunda erupted in August, about 250,000 people have fled their homes.
Redmond says the government and aid agencies agreed it was too dangerous for the civilians sheltering in the Kibati camps. So, they decided to relocate them to safer sites.
"We have so far moved about 1, 800 Internally Displaced to sites in Mugunga," said Redmond. "The number of persons at Kibati who are willing to relocate to the new site appears to be increasing. The first two convoys this morning will carry over 400 displaced people to the new camps."
Redmond says most of the homeless people staying at Kibati fled from villages north of Goma. He says Kibati is also sheltering some 25,000 people who had been in a camp in Kibumba, which was forcibly emptied by armed men.
He says despite the risks, many internally displaced people are reluctant to move away from Kibati. He says they want to stay as close as possible to their areas of origin.