Population Movements in Eastern DR Congo, Jan - Mar 2008, Issue No. 4
Following a difficult end of 2007 characterized by the intensification of military confrontations in North Kivu, the first quarter of the 2008 saw a series of important developments towards addressing the deteriorating situation in the Kivus. The Conference for Peace, Security and Development that took place in January 2008 in Goma and the subsequent cease fire established have reduced considerably the intensity of hostilities that engulfed North Kivu.
Unfortunately, these political advances are yet to translate into improvements for the population and the hundred of thousands of displaced persons in these two provinces. The population that fled their areas of origin during 2007 due to the combats remains displaced. Although early reports indicate that some returns may have taken place in parts of North Kivu, new displacement movements continue to be registered. This situation is expected to continue until the population is able to translate the Peace talks into concrete and sustainable security improvements in their areas of origin.
Yet, whilst we continue to register new displacements in the two Kivus, and a few new waves in Ituri, the problem of instability and displacement is becoming more localized to the two Kivus.
The overall figures of displacement in the country saw a decrease in the last three months. The Katanga province is no longer considered to have any displaced populations requiring humanitarian attention, and Ituri district in Province Orientale, continues to register very high return movements and has halved its displaced populations in the last few months.
By the end of March 2008, there were an estimated 1.31 million displaced persons in the two Kivu provinces and Ituri district. 64% are found in North Kivu and 27% in South Kivu. 13%, roughly 175,000 persons have been newly displaced during the reporting period or were displaced several months ago but could only be reached by humanitarian actors recently thanks to improved access and were registered during the reporting period. Nevertheless, the overall national figure of displaced persons dropped by approximately 35,000 persons. This figure could have been higher was it not for the waves of new displacement witnessed in North Kivu and parts of Ituri.
Prospects for the coming months in the Kivus continue to be worrisome. Despite the fact that the Peace Conference has brought a certain degree of calm to the region, pressure to step up activities to dislodge the FDLR from the two provinces are of great concern to the humanitarian community. Despite being considered 'non-offensive' operations, sporadic clashes are expected by the population and preventive displacements are already taking place simply as a result of FARDC deployments in FDLR controlled areas.
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