DR Congo

DR Congo: About 15,000 newly displaced in villages in Rumangabo area

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A team from the United Nations Mission in the DR Congo (MONUC)'s Civil Affairs Section recently visited Biruma, Kalengera and Rumangabo, three villages that lie 55, 61 and 50 kilometres north of Goma, to find out how civilian protection is organised following this month's attack on Rumangabo by the National Congress for People's Defence (CNDP).

The CNDP's 7 October attack on Rumangabo had left over 5,000 persons displaced from their homes and fleeing northward towards Kalengera. Kelengera is where another 10, 000 displaced people have been living in a makeshift camp for a year now.

The MONUC team found that Rumangabo had been virtually emptied of it inhabitants. The few who had returned complained about a campaign of systematic lootings by the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC).

In Biruma, inhabitants said that upon their return to the village, they had had their belongings taken away by troops from the two FARDC integrated brigades. They said they had referred the matter to both the village chief and the territorial authorities of Rutshuru.

MONUC noted that 60 percent of Biruma inhabitants were still displaced at Kelengera. 12,000 more people had found refuge at Kalengera where they are residing with host families or in public buildings.

MONUC's Civil Affairs Section is concerned by reports that people who returned to Tongo after the FARDC had withdrawn from the area on 16 October were reportedly harassed and even abducted by CNDP elements accusing them of collaboration with the FARDC.

In the humanitarian field, MONUC forces, together with humanitarian partners, were actively engaged in the protection of displaced persons in those areas affected by fighting in North Kivu.

After the violent clashes at Tongo and the FARDC's withdrawal from this village, MONUC is patrolling the area to prevent CNDP elements from moving into the villages, said the UN Mission's military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich.

Also, in response to a request from some 300 families at Kabizo, a village 10 km north of Tongo, who had fled the clashes earlier this week, MONUC organised patrols along the road to ensure these people's safety. This made it possible for displaced persons wishing to return to their homes to do so.

At the same time, MONUC continued watching closely all risk-prone areas, and intensified its patrols in the zones of separation. The UN Mission developed several patrols to monitor movement of the armed groups in the area surrounding Bamba, which lies 25 km north of Tongo. Subsequently, MONUC peacekeepers prevented all movement of armed groups at Kabizo and Butare, which lie 10 and 16 km, respectively, north of Tongo.