DR Congo

UNHCR Weekly Emergency Update - Ituri, South Kivu and North Kivu Provinces, Democratic Republic of the Congo (31 March – 13 April 2020)

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UNHCR and partners completed a multi-purpose cash distribution to 2,279 vulnerable households headed by women, in three displacement sites in Bunia, Ituri Province. The distribution was spread over more than a week to limit large gatherings of persons, in line with COVID-19 prevention protocols.

Since 19 March, timid return movements of 165 displaced households have been observed from the Nobili area, North Kivu Province, to areas of origin in and around Kamango.

Some reports describe the movement as “go and see” visits, possibly fuelled by border closures linked to COVID-19.
UNHCR and partner AIDES assisted displaced households in building their own shelters in Fizi Territory, South Kivu Province. So far, 947 out of 1,000 planned shelters were completed, while reconstruction was ongoing for the remaining 53 that were destroyed by heavy rain.

Operational context and protection situation

Ituri Province: Clashes between the CODECO armed group and the DRC’s army intensified in Djugu Territory. Due to the security situation, the road between Bunia and Aru is no longer accessible for humanitarian workers, cutting off displaced persons from vital assistance. An estimated 2,000 families have fled Djugu Territory in the first half of April, mostly towards displacement sites in and around Bunia. Displacement sites are however already overcrowded, and there is no further capacity to safely receive new arrivals. During the weekend of 4-5 April, armed groups staged attacks in the outskirts of Bunia city. This increased worries about security in displacement sites, among inhabitants of the Kigonze and ISP displacement sites. This also impacted UNHCR’s operations in the sites, such as planned distributions of core relief items.

North Kivu Province: In Beni Territory, the security situation continued to be marked by the activism of the ADF armed group and other armed elements, as well as by the offensive launched by the DRC’s army to neutralize them. Civilians continued to be the victims of human rights violations and forced displacement, due to attacks and fighting in Beni and Lubero territories. In Rutshuru Territory, the military leader of the Mai-Mai armed group surrendered to the army with about 100 of his men. The army now occupies localities abandoned by the MaiMai, and there are reports of human rights violations against civilians, which are followed-up on by humanitarian actors.

South Kivu Province: There has been an increase in reported human rights violations in South Kivu Province, as a result of armed groups targeting local populations in Shabunda, Kalehe, and Mwenga territories. In several locations in Fizi, Uvira, and Kabambare territories, local populations have been the victims of serious human rights violations committed by armed groups, including kidnappings, killings, rape and lootings. In some cases, staff of international NGOs were targeted. In Kabambare Territory, attacks by combatants have intensified, including repeated acts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), resulting in population movements towards Fizi Territory. In Uvira Territory, clashes between the Mai-Mai armed group and other militias led to the displacement of over 300 households. The army-led military operation against armed groups also caused displacement, as soldiers reportedly harassed civilians whom they suspected were members of armed groups.