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Democratic Republic of the Congo: displacement, a refuge from violence

13-02-2009 Operational Update

After intense fighting resumed at the end of October 2008, some 250,000 civilians from Rutshuru territory in North Kivu had to leave their native villages at the risk of their lives. Today, some are returning home.

Over 40,000 people have gone to a small camp for the displaced in Kibati, about 15 kilometres from Goma. Their arrival in a facility unsuited for such a large number of people caused many problems, especially in terms of water supply, shelter and food. In addition, because the front line is so near, the displaced lack security and are often the victims of violent acts committed by weapon bearers.

  • Many displaced people found refuge with residents of towns and villages situated on the western side of Lake Kivu, such as Saké, Kiroche and Bweremana in North Kivu, and Minova in South Kivu. The massive influx of people with no means of livelihood buffeted the economies of the host communities.

  • Several tens of thousands of displaced people moved northwards seeking refuge in areas near the Ugandan border. Some 5,000 of them reportedly took refuge temporarily in Uganda.

  • At the same time, South Lubero was the scene of clashes between various armed groups. As a consequence, the population had to move several times. During these movements, a number of civilians were stripped of everything they had.

 Emergency response of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to the needs of the population  

  • Since November, the ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have distributed food to more than 50,000 civilians accommodated in the Kibati camps or the Kibati area, and to more than 15, 000 in the Nyamilimalshasha area.

  • In addition, flour, maize, beans, oil and salt rations have been distributed to more than 67,000 civilians in the Saké and Bweremana areas and in the hills around Minova. This aid is enough to cover the needs of host communities and displaced people for the three months until the next harvest.

 Starting to fend for oneself again  

  • A few months have passed since the crisis began. Like host communities, displaced people taking advantage of a certain calm in Rutshuru and South Lubero to return to their home villages are having great difficulty regaining their former standard of living. In addition to the food that they receive, these people are therefore also given seed and tools allowing them to restart the agricultural cycle and make a living on their own. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are carrying out these aid distributions in cooperation with the World Food Programme.

  • In January, 7,415 people living in the Kibati area and more than 4,800 people in Kirotsch were given aid of this kind.

  • The distribution of seed and farming tools to some 15,000 people living in the Alimbongo and Bingi areas of South Lubero began in February. An operation to bring aid to more than 45,000 civilians in and around Kamandi adversely affected by the conflict is under preparation.

  • Beginning in mid-February, more than 45,000 residents and returnees in Rutshuru territory (Rugari, Kabaya and Rumangabo) will also receive aid of this kind, as will more than 6,500 people in the hills around Minova, in South Kivu.