UNHCR and community-based protection groups continued to raise awareness on COVID-19 and protection related risks among IDP, refugee and host populations in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri.
The COVID-19 related restrictions increase the risk of sexual and gender-based violence. There are too few PEP kits in several zones and shipments are delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The continuous rise of human rights violations by armed groups and members of security forces remains a concern for UNHCR as thousands continue to be uprooted in Eastern Congo.
Over 4.5M* Persons are internally displaced in Ituri (1.6M), North Kivu (1.9M) and South Kivu (1M) provinces.
93%* Of all IDPs in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri are accommodated in host families and communities (4.2M) 267,000
IDSs are hosted at CCCM coordinated IDP sites, while about 65,000 persons are resided at spontaneous sites
Operational context and protection situation
Ituri Province: Following the deployment of the Congolese army (FARDC) in Mahagi Territory as of 19 May and its reinforcement in Djugu Territory (Drodro health zone), recorded protection incidents decreased by 28% during the reporting period compared to the first two weeks of May. However, the number of documented incidents is still up compared to April. Increased presence of the FARDC is often accompanied by arson and looting because the army suspects militia elements of hiding among the local populations. Many people therefore fled their villages preemptively before the arrival of FARDC soldiers. CODECO militia attacked several localities of Walendu Watsi Chiefdom, Mahagi Territory which has forced some 15,000 persons into displacement according to initial estimates. UNHCR through partner INTERSOS is monitoring the displacement and the protection situation closely.
North Kivu Province: FARDC operations against FDLR militia in the Bwito Chiefdom, Rutshuru Territory have led to serious human rights violations including killings, looting and rape. Over 80,000 persons are estimated to have fled the area since the beginning of March. Attacks by alleged ADF elements in Beni Territory (Mutwanga and Oicha Health Zones) killed 27 civilians while 50 persons were abducted and multiple houses were looted. A military operation led to more displacement, as people avoided to be involved in armed incidents, while heavy rain and floods have left several dead and destroyed dozens of homes and fields.
In Masisi Territory the situation remains fragile because of fights between armed groups, particularly affecting the Bashali-Mokoto chiefdom where ten out of sixteen villages are occupied by armed groups. The absence of the FARDC in the zone enables armed groups to act as de facto authorities, which has led to an increase of human rights violations in the region. Populations are also on the move in Lubero Territory as two Mai-Mai armed groups continue to stir the violence in the area. UNHCR’s partner INTERSOS recorded 811 protection incidents including 84 cases of rape. Throughout May over 5,000 households reportedly fled their homes, bringing the total number of IDPs to over 1,9 million in North Kivu alone.
South Kivu Province: The heightened activity of armed groups and intercommunity conflicts in South Kivu continues to impact IDPs and others under UNHCR’s mandate. In Fizi Territory, Mai Mai Yakutumba, Chanvivi and other armed groups attacked in local villages, while in Kabambare Territory, the cases of rape are attributed by survivors to Twa militia. In the Highlands in Uvira Territory local and foreign armed groups continued attacking civilians in the Kigoma and Katobo areas. The FARDC is present in the area, attempting to counter the attacks. At the same time, human rights violations committed by the FARDC and Congolese National Police (PNC) continued to be reported.
Over 900 protection incidents were reported by UNHCR’s partner INTERSOS, mainly extorsions, assault and battery, forced labour and SGBV. In Fizi Territory, 500 households (2,708 people) fled following the public killing of three persons which led the FARDC and the PNC to arrest community members. Following clashes between the Mai Mai and the FARDC in Remeka in North Kivu, 1,427 IDP households (7,135 people) fled to Ziralo in Kalehe Territory, Maniema Province.