On 15 June UNHCR launched a large-scale soap distribution for refugees, IDPs and members of the host population in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A total of 118 tons of soap will be distributed in the three provinces. Each beneficiary will receive the equivalent of 4 bars of soap (600 gram). The continued violence against civilian population in East Congo is worrisome. Attacks against a displacement site in South Kivu, is particularly worrisome as it arose out of militia incursions into the site that put its civilian character into jeopardy.
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.
*Due to continuous population movements these figures change regularly and are only an estimate
Operational context and protection situation
Ituri Province: Continuous attacks by various militia and armed groups as well as counter-operations by the Congolese army (FARDC) continue to cause numerous protection incidents and population movements. Djugu Territory remains the most affected area. On 9 June, 6 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3 IDPs who had returned to their villages were killed in an attack by unidentified armed men in Lenga, Fataki health zone, with 5 children among the victims. 1,600 persons reportedly fled as a result. During another attack in Loda Health Zone on 17 June, unidentified armed men killed 5 IDPs who had returned to their village, including 2 children and caused around 500 families to flee.
The unstable security situation is increasing affecting to humanitarian activities. On 17 June, CODECO militia ambushed two humanitarian vehicles in Walendu Pitsi Chiefdom, which was the first attack on humanitarian workers in Ituri since almost two years. Violence in Beni Terrirory has led to several displacements from North Kivu to Ituri. Meanwhile, the Ituri provincial government closed the borders with North Kivu which will likely affect inter-province forced displacements.
North Kivu Province: Attacks between armed groups and the FARDC continued in North Kivu, causing human rights violations and forced displacement of several thousand people. 860 protection incidents (including 45 cases gender-based violence) were documented by UNHCR’s partner INTERSOS between 5 and 18 June, affecting Lubero and Beni Territories in particular. In Beni Territory several attacks by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements since 12 June have killed at least 17 civilians and led many more to flee. Military operations by the FARDC are pushing the ADF across the provincial border towards Ituri. Likewise, attacks in North Kivu provoke population movements towards southern Irumu Territory in Ituri Province. An ADF attack on 18 June in Beni Territory forced 4,850 persons to flee to Boga health zone in Irumu Territory in Ituri.
South Kivu Province: Fighting between armed groups and the FARDC continued in South Kivu with significant IDP movements of over 7,500 persons fleeing, while armed conflict between the Gumino militias and the Mai Mai rebels in Fizi Territory uprooted at least 5,000. Armed men, presumably the Gumino combatants often associated with the Banyamulenge community infiltrated an IDP site in Mikenge, Mwenga Territory to hide from their assailants. This led to FARDC entering the camp, searching for weapons and arresting 5 armed elements. Two IDPs were injured during the clashes between the Gumino combatants and the FARDC. In return, the same militia reportedly attacked the site on 20 June. These infiltrations have thus jeopardized the civilian character of the site even though the residents had no way to stop the militia’s actions.
400 protection incidents have been reported by UNHCR’s protection monitoring partner INTERSOS from 5 to 19 June 2020. More than 80% of these cases were perpetrated by armed groups in Fizi, Uvira, Shabunda, Kalehe, and Mwenga Territories, South Kivu. The most common incidents were physical assault and extortion, and there was a documented rise in forced labor from 12 to 19 June 2019.