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UNHCR Weekly Emergency Update #18 - Ituri and North Kivu Provinces, Democratic Republic of the Congo - 29 October – 4 November 2019

Situation Report
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Operational context and protection situation

Ituri Province

Armed violence continued to endanger civilians during the reporting period, mostly in Irumu and Djugu territories. Most human rights violations recorded by UNHCR’s Protection Monitoring recorded 199 human rights violations during the week, and most incidents were lootings (65), injuries (22), abductions (21), forced labor (21) and sexual violence (13). Cases of rape committed against minors remained a serious concern. In localities bordering Lake Albert in Djugu Territory, unidentified armed men are reportedly still active; civilians tend to voluntarily restrict their own movements in these areas for fear of being attacked. On 30 October, a 38-year-old displaced man was killed by armed men in his field in Dhendro, Bahema Nord community (Djugu Territory). In Mambasa Territory, military offensives have intensified with the aim of dismantling a prominent armed group. In southern Irumu Territory, several groups continued to commit exactions (lootings and kidnappings) against civilians.

BACKGROUND: Since 6 June, generalized violence has led to massive new displacements in Ituri Province. UNHCR and IOM recorded over 110,000 new arrivals in IDP sites in Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu territories between 31 May and 20 June. OCHA estimated that 360,000 people were displaced by the recent crisis; some 145,000 towards IDP sites and the rest to host communities. As displacements continued, Ituri’s Site Management and Coordination Working Group (CCCM) now estimates that almost 227,000 people are staying in 72 IDP sites. Outside of Bunia, the largest concentrations of IDPs are found in Drodro, Rho, Fataki, Kasenyi and Tchomia, in Djugu and Irumu territories. In Mahagi Territory, there is a large concentration of IDPs in Ramogi. Spontaneous returns of an estimated 1,575 people who had fled to Uganda were observed, but UNHCR is not able to establish exact numbers. UNHCR’s Protection Monitoring system documented 5,530 incidents between January and October 2019 in Ituri Province.

North Kivu Province

The situation in North Kivu remained of concern, with all territories affected by varying degrees of conflict, and the impact being felt by civilians. Between 25 and 30 October, 241 human rights violations were recorded by UNHCR’s Protection Monitoring, a figure comparable to recent weeks. Violations mostly consisted of extortion, kidnapping and bodily harm, mainly affecting men; while Sexual and Gender-Based Violence disproportionately affected women. The impact was most felt in Masisi Territory (109 violations), where aid workers’ access to recent IDPs in Nyabiondo Health Zone has been restricted by targeted attacks against them. Lubero Territory witnessed a resurgence of conflict, with armed groups destroying a health center accused of being associated with the Ebola response, for the second time in one month. In Beni Territory, military operations against armed groups, which were officially launched on 29 October, are complicating humanitarian actors’ access to persons of concern outside the city of Beni.

BACKGROUND: Over 1.5 million IDPs are located in North Kivu Province as of October 2019. The vast majority are staying with host communities (94%), while some 91,000 reside in 24 IDP sites coordinated by UNHCR or IOM. Displacements are cyclical in most of the Province, with interlinked causes that include armed conflict, human rights violations committed by armed groups and state armed forces, land conflicts, inter-ethnic violence, illegal exploitation of mineral resources, and others. Between March and early June 2019, attacks by a prominent armed group led to significant displacements from the town of Kamango towards the town of Nobili (Beni Territory). Until recently, OCHA estimated the number of IDPs in the Nobili area at around 112,000, but most of them had returned as of late October.
In other territories of North Kivu (Masisi and Rutshuru) OCHA estimates that over 67,000 people were displaced towards host communities in May and June alone, while arrival numbers into several IDP sites have been significant.
UNHCR’s Protection Monitoring system documented 7,813 protection incidents between January and September 2019 throughout the Province.