Over the past few weeks, we have repeatedly voiced UNHCR's concern for the safety of tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in two camps on the northern outskirts of Goma that are in very close proximity to the frontlines. Given the continuing security threat, provincial authorities, UNHCR and its partners have decided to transfer the more than 60,000 people in the two Kibati camps to a new, 26-hectare Mugunga III site, west of Goma. The transfer is expected to begin next week. UNHCR and its partners were at the new site yesterday plotting out the locations of various facilities at the new site, including latrines, access roads and shelter blocks. The voluntary transfer will be complicated and many people will make the move on foot - a distance of about 15 kms. Those unable to walk, including children, the elderly and the infirm, will be transported by truck to the new site.
Meanwhile, UNHCR and UNICEF non-food aid distributions continue today in Kibati, with deliveries of blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, soap, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting are being distributed. Supplies are being brought in by both road and air. Yesterday, a UNHCR-chartered aircraft landed in Goma after leaving Entebbe Airport in Uganda earlier in the day carrying 1,500 bales of plastic sheeting and three giant portable warehouses, known as Rubbhalls. The aid had earlier been airlifted from UNHCR's regional stockpile in Dubai.
The warehouse tents are being used as emergency accommodation for some of the more than 65,000 people currently sheltering the Kibati. On Wednesday, a six-truck convoy arrived in Goma from UNHCR's aid warehouse n Ngara, Tanzania, carrying 3,525 pieces of plastic sheeting, 2,652 kitchen sets, some 20,220 blankets and 20,200 sleeping mats Earlier, we had already transported non-food items for some 50,000 people to Goma from Ngara. More supplies are in the pipeline and will continue to flow into the region from our stocks worldwide.
Fighting in North Kivu intensified at the end of 2006. By January 2008, it had brought the total number of IDPs in the region to more than 800,000. Since the fighting resumed in August, some 250,000 civilians have fled, many of them already displaced.