UNHCR and partners rush to complete new camp in eastern Congo

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 20 Nov 2008 View Original
GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 20 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency and its partners have been taking advantage of relative calm in the eastern Congolese province of North Kivu this week to step up work on a new camp for up to 30,000 displaced people.

UNHCR and the provincial authorities want to move almost half of the 67,000 internally displaced people (IDP) currently staying in two camps in Kibati to the new Mugunga III camps, located to the west of the provincial capital, Goma.

Kibati lies just north of Goma and is perilously close to the frontline between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) armed forces and rebel troops. Fighting between the rivals has displaced some 250,000 people in North Kivu since August, but a fragile ceasefire has been in place this week.

This lull has enabled UNHCR and partners to mark out the 26-hectare Mugunga site, clear the ground and start building accommodation blocks and other infrastructure, including access roads and latrines. A water distribution system is being built, with six standpipes now in operation to supply up to 10,000 people.

Once the IDP facility is ready, UNHCR will help the provincial authorities move people on a voluntary basis from the two Kibati camps to Mugunga III. Most people will make the 15-kilometre journey by foot, but young children, the elderly and the infirm will be transported by truck.

Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to ferry additional aid to Goma from emergency stockpiles outside the DRC. On Wednesday, a land convoy arrived from Ngara, Tanzania, with 2,425 pieces of plastic sheeting, 1,204 kitchen sets, 18,444 blankets, 13,750 sleeping mats, 4, 200 collapsible jerry cans and 15,000 mosquito nets.

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.

By David Nthengwe
in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo