Saturday, July 17, 2010

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Congo-Kinshasa: When Thousands Suddenly Take Flight on, July 15, 2010
"Tens of thousands of people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled their homes amid an army offensive against Ugandan rebels, presenting fresh impetus to humanitarian agencies' efforts to adapt their response mechanisms to sudden displacement. Local NGOs listed 50,000 displaced civilians who had taken flight since DRC military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU) started on 25 June in the North Kivu district of Beni. 'There are more than that,' said Omar Kavota, the president of civil society groups in Beni, adding that some villages had been totally abandoned. 'The [military] strategy should be redefined when it comes to the protection of civilians and their villages,' he urged. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on 15 July that 37,000 people had been officially registered as displaced in Beni District. A large wave of displacement was prompted by a 28 June attack -- allegedly a rebel reprisal against the offensive -- on the village of Mutwanga, which left eight civilians dead. Further attacks took place from the second week of July, with the ADF/NALU, estimated to number around 1,300 fighters, again being blamed by witnesses. Unlike previous operations against Rwandan rebels in eastern DRC, this offensive enjoys no support from the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO (formerly MONUC). ...
Shortly before the operation started, a MONUSCO source told IRIN peacekeepers were reluctant to support the offensive precisely because of this threat. 'The last time we had joint operations there in 2005, 120-150 ADF-NALU were killed and 150,000 people displaced,' the source said, adding that he believed the group to be 'dormant.' Since then Beni has been largely spared the violence that ravaged other parts of eastern DRC and pushed the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) to 1.8 million. [...]"

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