DR Congo

MONUC concerned by increasing attacks on civilians and humanitarians in eastern DR Congo

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During the weekly MONUC press conference this Wednesday 27 June 2007, MONUC raised its concerns over the deteriorating security situation in eastern DRC, citing an increase in attacks against the civilian population and humanitarian organisations, particularly in North Kivu province.

In North Kivu, an attack was perpetrated last Monday by armed men in uniform, against two vehicles belonging to an international NGO circulating in the area of Kisharo (Rutshuru territory).

Even if there were no victims, this incident is all the more worrying as it follows another similar attack a few days earlier in the same area - the looting in the night of June 20 of the warehouse of another international NGO in Uvira - also by armed men in uniform.

The humanitarians concerned have for the moment decided to suspend their activities in the zones controlled by the troops of the dissident general Nkunda, because of the deteriorating security conditions.

Also in North Kivu, MONUC's Civil Affairs division carried out a joint evaluation mission in the past week in the localities of Kisharo, Nyamilima and Ishasha, whose objective was to evaluate the security conditions of the civilian population, in particular the displaced on the Ngwenda - Ishasha axis.

The mission noted that almost daily attacks were made against civilians by the FDLR or the soldiers of the mixed FARDC Brigades deployed in the area, attacks which caused concentrations of displaced people in Kiwanja, Nyamilima and Ishasha, Kisharo, where nearly 42,000 people have gathered since last February.

Furthermore in North Kivu, MONUC's Civil Affairs division worries about the operations of the CNDP, the political structure of general Nkunda, who is pressurising the civil authorities to close the displaced people's camps - in Kichanga, Mweso (Masisi territory) and Nyanzale (Rutshuru territory), to impose taxes on the population, and set up its own administration.

The Red Cross and the NGO CEPAC (the Community Pentecost churches in Congo) announced a shift in population since April 2007 towards Kasugho in the southern part of Lubero territory. They also announce confrontations between two Mayi Mayi groups - "la Fontaine" and "Jackson". The inhabitants of the villages located at the west of Kasugho, where elements of the FDLR are located, are leaving their villages because of exactions.

In addition, according to the Red Cross and CEPAC reports, the FDLR sexually abuse women, and plunder harvests, houses, and cattle. A mission of evaluation in Kasugho is being prepared.

Following reports of a rise of tension in Kitshanga (Masisi territory) and Nyazale (Rutshuru territory), an evaluation mission was carried out by OCHA and MONUC's Civil Affairs Division. The mission confirms that the CNDP demands the closing of displaced persons camps, accusing them of sheltering FDLR elements.

Moreover, more than 5,000 former displaced households in Kisharu still did not receive assistance because of the high risk of looting and attacks that persists in the area. In the past three weeks, 2,299 households fled the insecurity caused by the FDLR and the Bravo brigade.

In South Kivu, due to joint operations led by the FARDC against FDLR/Rasta, humanitarians in South Kivu estimate that 18,000 people have been displaced since June, although these figures have not been confirmed.

According to official sources in Itombwe and Basimukindji, in the territory of Mwenga, several children, including girls, are exploited as carriers in the cassiterite and gold mines in Miki, Kapanga, Makenda, Kasenge and Tulambo.

These children are subjected to the transport of mining products and other goods on a distance of 120 kms from surroundings areas, which they traverse in two days of walking. Young girls are also sexually exploited during the course of this work.