A UN refugee agency team looking after
victims of the latest Ugandan rebel strikes on two villages in Congo’s
northeastern Orientale province is warning of dire conditions for thousands of
newly displaced civilians. Napopo and
Nagero are the latest villages allegedly raided by DRC-based Lord’s Resistance
Army (LRA) rebels. The rebel show of force was staged in retaliation for a
three-nation military mission launched jointly by Uganda, Sudan, and the
Democratic Republic of Congo against the rebels on December 14. Since then, more than 500 Congolese have
been killed in the violence. The rebels deny staging the raids and blame a
Ugandan military offensive for the destruction.
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says that the number of displaced has more than doubled, rising by
50-thousand in the past three weeks alone.
estimate that the joint operation overall of the Congolese, Sudanese, and
Ugandan forces started on the 14th of December against the LRA – the
LRA attacks have displaced some 50-thousand people. Now this is in addition to all of the
50-thousand people that have been displaced in the northeastern tip of the DRC
bordering Sudan and Uganda. And the
violence which took place there between September and November already
displaced some 50-thousand people there,” he said.
needing food, shelter, medicine, clothes and other aid, according to UNHCR
estimates, some 225 Congolese, including 160 children, have been kidnapped by
the rebels and more than 80 women raped.
The UNHCR team that visited the remote region last weekend says many
have been forced to flee into the bush, or have taken refuge with friends and
relatives in neighboring towns.
Spokesman Mahecic cautions that relief may be delayed in reaching its
“This is an extremely difficult area to access, in particular because of the
ongoing insecurity, but also because this is an extremely remote area with very
few roads and very, very difficult to reach,” he noted.
recently as Monday, UN personnel received word of eight deaths in the village
of Napopo as houses were set ablaze. An
LRA attack on Garamba National Park headquarters at Nagero occurred last Friday
and left eighteen people dead, including two park rangers and two wives of
wardens. Uganda’s New Vision newspaper reports that 10 LRA rebels have been killed
during the past few days. Last weekend,
the UN team visited Faradje, 100 kilometers west of the DRC-Congo-Sudan border,
which was attacked on Christmas. More
than 70 of the town’s residents were killed, and an estimated 37-thousand were
forced to flee their homes. Since
Sunday, victims of the Nagero attack have sought refuge in Faradje, even though
that town lost more than 800 houses, three schools, government buildings and
hospitals, which were burned and pillaged in late December. The UNHCR’s Andrej
Mahecic says that the combination of last month’s fires and the latest refugee
arrivals could signal the start of an extensive food emergency.
“A lot of the crop, the annual harvest
of rice, was lost in the fire in Faradje.
And so with the food, the shelter, the basic aid items, this population
is in dire need of these things. And we
are now looking with the authorities how the humanitarian assistance can be
administered in these inaccessible and insecure areas,” he explained.