Hundreds more flee continuing LRA attacks in north-east Congo

News Stories, 30 March 2012

© UNHCR/ M.Hofer
A displaced Congolese woman carries a bag of non-food items distributed by UNHCR in Dungu.

DUNGU, Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 30 (UNHCR) Continuing attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have displaced more than 1,200 people and killed two in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this month. This brings the known number of displaced in Orientale province this year to more than 4,200, but the figure could be higher.

Neighbouring South Sudan and the Central African Republic have also been affected by violence from the LRA, a brutal Ugandan rebel group which is being hunted by various armed forces in the central Africa region.

"Since our last update on March 6, there have been 13 new LRA attacks in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most occurred in Dungu territory between March 6 and 28," a UNHCR spokesperson said Friday.

"Two people were killed and 13 abducted, including a child in the town of Aba. The violence has also displaced more than 1,230 people in the Dungu area," she added. "Many others could be displaced, but we don't have the [precise] numbers because we don't have access to many areas," UNHCR External Affairs Officer Céline Schmitt said in Dungu on Friday.

She said there had also been reports of attacks by the Ugandan rebel group in Bondo, close to the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). UNHCR has been helping people who have found shelter in and around Dungu.

UNHCR and the World Food Programme distributed aid to 200 families, or about 1,000 people displaced in March, in Dungu on Thursday. The UNHCR aid included plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and jerry cans.

In CAR itself, attacks attributed to the LRA resumed in January after a lull since April 2011. Eleven LRA attacks have been recorded in the south-eastern part of the country this year. Eight of those took place near the towns of Zemio and Mboki, where UNHCR assists refugees and internally displaced populations.

Four people were killed during the attacks and 31 abducted, according to the CAR defence and security forces.

The security situation in south-eastern CAR remains extremely fragile. One exception is in the city of Obo, where the situation has improved with the presence of United States troops deployed last October to bolster efforts by the joint CAR-Ugandan armed forces hunting the LRA and its leadership.

UNHCR field staff say that patrols around Obo by the two national armies supported by US military advisers have enabled local authorities to ensure security within a 25-kilometre radius of Obo, compared to 5 km before. The extended security perimeter is allowing residents to tend their farms.

The LRA also conducts hit-and-run attacks in South Sudan. According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2011 such attacks killed 18 people, wounded nine, and resulted in 49 abductions and 7,382 people being internally displaced.

No known LRA attacks have occurred in South Sudan this year, however UNHCR regularly receives new groups of refugees fleeing LRA attacks in the DRC and CAR. South Sudan's Western and Central Equatoria states together now host more than 22,000 refugees from these two neighbouring countries, including more than 700 new arrivals this year.

South Sudan is preparing to host African Union forces to coordinate a regional effort to eliminate LRA threats.

UNHCR welcomes the unprecedented regional and international initiatives aimed at ending the LRA atrocities in CAR, DRC and South Sudan and urges all actors to respect human rights and minimize risk to civilian populations.

Indiscriminate LRA assaults on civilians in these three countries have left an estimated 440,000 people internally displaced or living as refugees. Some 335,000 of them are found in DRC alone.

UNHCR works with the local authorities, other UN agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations to assist people who escape or are rescued from the LRA. Some survivors have told UNHCR staff that during their captivity, they were tortured before being used as porters. Some also witnessed the killing of their relatives.

By Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

You can help save the lives of thousands of refugees

Donate to this crisis

DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Donate now and help to provide emergency aid to tens of thousands of people fleeing South Sudan to escape violence.

Donate to this crisis

Refugees

The number of refugees of concern to UNHCR stood at 10.4 million at the beginning of 2013, down slightly from a year earlier.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Since January 2014, a funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by 60 per cent in refugee camps in southern Chad. The reduction comes as thousands of refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) continue to arrive in the south - more than 14,000 of them since the beginning of 2014. Many arrive sick, malnourished and exhausted after walking for months in the bush with little food or water. They join some 90,000 other CAR refugees already in the south - some of them for years.

The earlier refugees have been able to gain some degree of self-reliance through agriculture or employment, thus making up for some of the food cuts. But the new arrivals, fleeing the latest round of violence in their homeland, are facing a much harsher reality. And many of them - particularly children - will struggle to survive because WFP has also been forced cut the supplemental feeding programmes used to treat people trying to recover from malnutrition.

WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

Photojournalist Corentin Fohlen and UNHCR Public Information Officer Céline Schmitt visited CAR refugees in southern Chad to document their plight and how they're trying to cope.

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Refugees prepare for winter in Jordan's Za'atari camp

Life in Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp is hard. Scorching hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, this flat, arid patch of land near the border with Syria was almost empty when the camp opened in July. Today, it hosts more than 31,000 Syrians who have fled the conflict in their country.

The journey to Jordan is perilous. Refugees cross the Syrian-Jordan border at night in temperatures that now hover close to freezing. Mothers try to keep their children quiet during the journey. It is a harrowing experience and not everyone makes it across.

In Za'atari, refugees are allocated a tent and given sleeping mats, blankets and food on arrival. But as winter approaches, UNHCR is working with partners to ensure that all refugees will be protected from the elements. This includes upgrading tents and moving the most vulnerable to prefabricated homes, now being installed.

Through the Norwegian Refugee Council, UNHCR has also distributed thousands of winter kits that include thermal liners, insulated ground pads and metal sheeting to build sheltered kitchen areas outside tents. Warmer clothes and more blankets will also be distributed where needed.

Refugees prepare for winter in Jordan's Za'atari camp

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Each week 10,000 Muslims cross into eastern Cameroon to escape the violence consuming the Central African Republic (CAR). Many new arrivals report that they have been repeatedly attacked as they fled. The anti-Balaka militiamen have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing people to find alternate routes through the bush. Many are walking two to three months to reach Cameroon, arriving malnourished and bearing wounds from machetes and gunshots.

UNHCR and its partners have established additional mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. The UN refugee agency is also supporting public health centres that have been overwhelmed by the number of refugees and their condition.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees who had been living in the open in the Garoua Bouai and Kenzou border areas, bringing them to new sites at Lolo, Mborguene, Gado and Borgop in the East and Adamwa regions.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received nearly 70,000 refugees from CAR, adding to the 92,000 who fled in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

UNHCR staff members Paul Spiegel and Michele Poletto recently travelled to eastern Cameroon and have the following photos to share from their iPhone and camera.

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

UNHCR: An Appeal for AfricaPlay video

UNHCR: An Appeal for Africa

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, called for more attention and help for African nations dealing with new and old displacements.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
Turkey: Surge of Syrian RefugeesPlay video

Turkey: Surge of Syrian Refugees

More than 138,000 Syrian Kurd refugees have crossed into Turkey from the north of Syria in the last three days. This is one of the largest refugee influxes into Turkey since the start of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.