UNHCR and partners step up Congo aid efforts amid uncertainty

News Stories, 28 November 2012

© UNHCR/F.Noy
Displaced people select wooden posts to make shelters in Mugunga III camp near Goma. Shelter in the camp is currently a concern for UNHCR.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 28 (UNHCR) Amid continuing political uncertainty in the eastern Congo, UNHCR and its partners have been stepping up efforts to assist tens of thousands of displaced people.

UNHCR is working with other humanitarian aid organizations to support the return of internally displaced people (IDP) to their homes in North Kivu province's Rutshuru territory from locations in and around the provincial capital, Goma, which was captured by the rebel M23 movement on November 20.

Lists are being prepared of the most vulnerable people who will need transportation but the operation is being held up by security considerations. The refugee agency insists that any return must be voluntary and that the conditions in the places of return are safe. UNHCR has received reports that some IDPs who went to Rutshuru on their own, returned to Goma after finding their homes destroyed.

Moreover fighting has been reported in Kibumba on the road from Goma to Rutshuru. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies were scheduled to make an assessment mission to the region on Thursday.

Shortage of petrol is also a concern that is affecting operations, while UNHCR and other agencies are currently under-staffed in Goma due to the continuing unstable security situation. UNHCR hopes to strengthen its team as soon as security permits.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) had as of Monday distributed initial three-day food packs to some 40,000 displaced civilians (more than 13,370 families) in camps and other locations in and around Goma. Altogether, some 70,000 will benefit. The distribution was agreed on after discussion between UNHCR and WFP, a vital partner worldwide.

The refugee agency hopes that a food distribution can be organized in Goma on Friday for more than 1,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from Burundi. UNHCR and WFP are also discussing the possibility of distributing food rations sufficient for a week to IDPs in the greater Goma area before they return home. More food will be distributed at a later stage in areas of return, security permitting.

Shelter is also a concern for UNHCR and one staff member visited Mugunga III camp, west of Goma, on Wednesday and said: "Some people are still sleeping outside." She said the situation was made worse because the rainy season has arrived in North Kivu. UNHCR and partners plan to construct large communal shelters as a quick response for those in need of shelter.

UNHCR staff said the situation remains relatively calm in Goma, where water and electricity supplies are partially back. Children have begun resuming classes and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is building hangars for IDPs who have been occupying classrooms since fleeing the latest fighting that erupted on November 15 between the government and M23. UNHCR and its inter-agency partners have providing medicine to health centres in Goma.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

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