DR Congo

DRC: 30,000 displaced by attacks in Lomami river valley, Kasai Oriental

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KINSHASA, 3 March (IRIN) - Slightly over 30,000 people have been displaced since late 2002 by attacks and counterattacks by Mayi-Mayi militias and the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Goma (RCD-Goma) rebel movement along the western bank of the River Lomami, between Katako Kombe and Lubefu, in Kasai Oriental Province, central Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official relief and development agency of the US Catholic community.
In response, CRS and its local partners, Caritas and BDOM/Tshumbe, are planning a distribution of agricultural implements, fishing nets, and non-food items, as well as medical kits from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), with transportation of these goods from the capital, Kinshasa, to the diocese of Tshumbe, financed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"Attacks intensified between September 2002 and January 2003, forcing the population to abandon their farms and seek refuge in the areas around Tshumbe, Wembonyama, Lubefu and Katako Kombe," CRS reported.

Displaced residents told CRS that attacks in the area had begun in April 2002, forcing many to periodically take refuge in nearby forests.

"The displaced report that their villages were repeatedly looted and burned, that crops were destroyed, and that there were cases of torture, execution and rape. Most of the displaced are staying with host families, while others sleep in the open. It is reported that some additional victims of the attacks have yet to emerge from the forest for fear of being mistaken for Mayi-Mayi by the RCD-Goma forces," CRS stated.

The River Lomami separates the provinces of Kasai Oriental and Maniema.

The affected area of the river valley has been under the control of RCD-Goma since early 1998.

[ENDS]

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