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DR Congo/Kisangani: The United Nations envisages an operation to assist Dungu refugees

News and Press Release
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Nana Rosine Ngangoue / MONUC

A plan to redeploy humanitarian agencies to Dungu, in Haut-Uélé territory 800 kilometres to the north of Kisangani, is being considered to allow aid to reach 34,000 internally displaced refugees in the area. It follows a series of attacks, looting and abduction of children carried out by Ugandan fighters from the Lords Resistance Army, (LRA).

Last Friday November 14th, a joint MONUC and United Nations agencies mission from Kisangani went to Dungu with the goal of carrying out a preliminary evaluation of the humanitarian and security situation currently on the ground. At the time of the visit, the town of some 55,000 inhabitants was virtually deserted.

The alleged abuses carried out in different villages led to the movement of large numbers of people. A huge area of 10,000 square kilometres was depopulated.

According to the administrator of the territory there, Haut-Uélé has some 34,000 internally displaced refugees, of whom between 20,000 and 24,000 went on foot to Isiro, a 150 kilometres to the south west of Dungu, fleeing particularly the communities of Kiliwo, Tongo and Duru.

The administrator of the territory emphasised that the population is desperately short of supplies because nearly 8,000 square kilometres - essentially of cultivated fields, is occupied by members of the LRA who claim an area to the south between the River Dungu and to the north by the frontier of South Sudan.

The administrator called for urgent humanitarian assistance, notably of food. So he asked UN agencies (UNOPS, OCHA, FAO and UNICEF) to make good their promises of help and reconstruction. Until now, only MSF (Medecins sans frontières) has been able to deliver ten tonnes of essential supplies, because of a lack of implementing partners locally for distribution at Dungu.

The agencies envisage humanitarian aid convoys coming to the aid of populations in need. However, the state of roads and security problems make it difficult to route aid from Bunia or Kampala in Uganda.

That's why the humanitarian agencies asked for MONUC's help to put an air bridge in place from larger cities in the region (Entebbe, Goma, and Bunia) where there are stocks of emergency humanitarian aid to Dungu.

MONUC expressed its readiness to support such an operation and could make helicopters available to secure humanitarian aid for Dungu.