DR Congo

DR Congo: Statement attributable to the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Ross Mountain

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Kinshasa, 29 May, 2007 - Mr. Ross Mountain, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, strongly condemned the brutal massacre of villagers that took place during the night between 26 and 27 May in the province of South Kivu.

Men armed with machetes went into the isolated villages of Nyabuluze and Muhungu in the territory of Walungu indiscriminately killing 18 civilians, including 13 children, in their sleep. Another 28 people were injured and are currently being cared for at the general hospital in Kaniola and the general hospital in Walungu. The perpetrators are suspected to belong to the Rasta/FDLR.

The Humanitarian Coordinator declared that, "the entire humanitarian community is appalled and outraged by these brutal murders and condemns all violence committed against civilians by armed groups."

On Monday 28 May, within the framework of the Rapid Response Mechanism, an evaluation team made up of UNICEF, OCHA, and the INGO IRC (International Relief Committee) went to Kaniola to assess the security situation and the magnitude of the population displacement caused by the massacre and ensuing threat. The evaluation mission confirmed that these exactions have triggered widespread panic among the civilian population. Families from the targeted villages have taken refuge in the neighbouring towns of Kaniola and Walungu. However, it seems not only families close to the targeted villages are fleeing; population displacements extend far beyond the immediate area where the massacres took place.

"Since Sunday night we are witnessing new population movements every day. Night commuting is taking place: terrified civilians return to their villages or to their fields on the hills to check on their harvests. Before nightfall, they hurry back to urban centres and spend the night with host families or in community centres. " explained Mr. Mountain. The humanitarian community expects long-term population displacements.

Humanitarian actors in the region say there is an urgent need for medical supplies and equipment to respond to the needs of those being hospitalized. More evaluation missions also need to be conducted urgently in order to identify the humanitarian needs of displaced families.

The Humanitarian Coordinator called to mind that it is the responsibility of Congolese authorities to ensure the protection of all Congolese civilians.

For more information please contact Mr. Christophe Illemassene, Head of Public Information and Advocacy - Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) / illemassene@un.org / Phone: +243 (0) 819 889 195

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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