KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) July 14, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)
An estimated 20,000 people have been displaced last week in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as a result of armed conflict between the national army and the Ugandan armed opposition group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
“We are concerned by this development”, said Mr. Richard Dackam-Ngatchou, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, “and must continue to call for all belligerent parties to conduct hostilities without causing suffering to civilians”.
The Beni territory is located in North Kivu’s extreme north, on the northern shore of Lake Edward and bordering Uganda to the east.
The number of those affected is only a tiny fraction of the estimated 1.85 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently present in the DRC. However, humanitarians are particularly concerned for two reasons. First, the Beni territory was until now a relatively calm area, previously hosting only an estimated 10,000 IDPs. Second, this is the first time since 2006 that people have been displaced as a result of conflict involving the ADF.
Humanitarian actors are assessing the situation and planning a response, including through the inter-agency Rapid Response to Movements of Population (RRMP) programme, a framework that can comprise contingency preparations, humanitarian surveillance, and the provision of emergency multi-sector assistance to those affected by population movements — including IDPs and returnees as well as members of host communities. Humanitarians currently estimate that at least 14,000 people are in urgent need of life-saving assistance, including food, shelter, water, and medical care. Of these, 2,000 have already been assisted through the RRMP.
“We don’t know whether these violent attacks on civilians mark a renewed trend or an isolated incident”, said Mohamed Boukry, Regional Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “An inter-agency contingency plan has been prepared and humanitarian actors are ready to respond to the needs of the affected population adequately”, he added.
The ADF was formed in Uganda in 1996, and gradually expanded its activities to eastern DRC. After being largely destroyed in the mid-2000s, the group gradually reorganised itself. It is only one of several foreign armed opposition groups operating in eastern DRC, which also include the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Rwandan Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR).
SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS