Refugees International Advocate Anne Edgerton
is presently conducting a humanitarian assessment mission in the Ituri
region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As RI reported in our first
report in the Forgotten People series [Ituri
District of the DRC] Ituri is
experiencing large-scale displacement as the result of ethnic conflict
that is a product of the wider civil war in the Congo. The UN estimates
that 500,000 people are displaced in this region alone and insecurity presents
humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need. Recent reports of cannibalism
and rape by parties to the conflict forced the personnel of MONUC, the
UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, to investigate, but whether these investigations
have served to reduce the abuses is unclear, and a question that Anne herself
RI is focusing on assessing the overall situation for the displaced, with particular attention to the needs of vulnerable women and children. Anne will reach the towns of Beni and Bunia by air, and then travel into the countryside to the extent that security conditions will permit. She will also visit regions of Uganda where recent refugees from Ituri have found asylum.
Anne will return to the United States on February 28th.