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DR Congo: Opposing signs after Ugandan rebel attack

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The situation in the Eastern province remains uncertain as the Lord's resistance army (LRA) rebels have continued to launch raids in the area since mid-September, leaving victims and forcing thousands of civilians to flee. Local missionary sources have confirmed that Dungu, one of the main centers of the region with its 30,000 or so inhabitants, is empty and more than half the population has chosen to move temporarily to Isiro and Niangara or the forest. The fear of more rebel raids has also forced the closure of schools and paralyzed the economic life of much of the Eastern province. "The farmers - said the sources to MISNA - are not collecting rice and have not sown beans; this will probably create difficulties in the near future even if for the time being no food or health emergencies have been observed". After the direct attack launched against Dungu last November, Radio Okapi has reported that there was more violence last Sunday in the areas of Bangadi and Neisu: the rebels looted homes and administrative offices, driving the population away in the direction of Nyangara. In the uncertainty of the situation that has developed, there is, nonetheless, some semblance of good news: in Dungu, the army has increased its numbers and night patrols, which has prompted some of the civilians who fled to return. Moreover, there are also groups of rebels that have started to hand themselves over to the UN mission in RD Congo (MONUC), as did 23 fighters last Sunday alone. Moreover, MISNA sources have confirmed that 55 people, part of a larger group of 80 civilians, who had been kidnapped in Dungo on November 1.