DR Congo

Activities in camp Aero in Bunia, DRC

Atlas Logistique would like to answer to the article published in the IRIN press review of the 8th july 2005 : Atlas Logistique has not suspended all activities in the Camp Aero until the 31st august 2005 as mentioned.

Atlas Logistique, together with the humanitarian actors directly or indirectly involved in the issues of the IDP Camp Aero in Bunia, has been driving in the last few months a reflexion on the future of the camp and its inhabitants and has decided, together with its fundraiser, ECHO, as well as with above mentioned actors, to stop its activities in the aero camp at the end of August 2005. Until then, all activities of coordination, amenagement and return transport facilities will be ensured as always.

This decision was taken after two years of assistance to the internal displaced persons of the aero camp, and considering several key facts :

- Since its creation, the camp has seen its population reduced by more than 50% : the process of return is a reality that has to be encouraged and facilitated.

- In the beginning of July, the IDP camp gathers 7,312 persons (compared to about 19,000 in July 2003), out of which 50% are originary from Bunia city itself.

- IDPs are persons whose moral or physical integrity is threatened, and the IDP camp existed to ensure their protection. Humanitarian aid has only been implemented in the camp to respond to emergency needs of the populations that had left their places of origin and had arrived in Bunia in a situation of extreme poverty.

- The security situation in Ituri in general and in Bunia in particular has seen a positive evolution in the last years, and even if some places in Ituri are still unsecure, most of them are accessible and favorable for return and reinstallation of populations.

- After two years of living in Bunia, in aero camp, the former IDPs are no longer in the 2003 emergency situation. Most of them have developed surviving mechanisms and have benefited from the socio economic situation of Bunia city, finding jobs or cultivating fields outside the city.

- The most vulnerable populations are still benefiting from food distribution on vulnerability criterias, and the organization of the distribution will be passed on to a local NGO, ADDSE, already in charge of food distribution for vunerable populaitons in Bunia city.

- The aero camp is offering living facilities (current water, electricity, free parcels...) that have reached a better level than those of the population living in the city. This fact is contrary to "Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement" elaborated by UNOCHA.

Therefore, Atlas Logistique will concentrate efforts on encouraging and facilitating voluntary return of population to their places of origin, or any place choosed for reinstallation, instead of gathering help and efforts in fixing populations in the camp.

The date of the 31st of August has been defined taking into account the situation and a global strategy elaborated in coordination with all humanitarian actors directly or indirectly involved in the IDP aero camp issues. The IDP camp population was informed one month ago of this global decision, as well as local autorities.

In the next weeks, a stress will be put on defining and attributing responsabilities to local actors and autorities on the future of the camp, if population remains after the 31st of August.