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50,000 unaccounted for as Laurent Nkunda's Rebels Burn Refugee Camps

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Congo News Agency - November 1, 2008

Congo IDPs
UNHCR humanitarian partners have reported to the agency that several camps for internally displaced people near the North Kivu town of Rutshuru have been forcibly emptied, looted and burned by Laurent Nkunda's rebels.

The UNHCR Chief Spokesman Ron Redmond told journalists in Geneva that the agency was "extremely concerned about the fate of some 50,000 displaced people living in these camps, which include the UNHCR-administered sites of Dumez, Nyongera and Kasasa as well as several makeshift settlements".

Laurent Nkunda and his men have been accused for years of committing war crimes in eastern Congo. Mass graves have been found in areas previously occupied by the rebels. One such site was found in September 2007 by the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) at Rubare, northwest of Goma, a camp that Laurent Nkunda's rebels had just abandoned.

At the time, MONUC spokesman Sylvie van den Wildenberg told a reporter in an interview that "At the moment, we do not know the exact number of victims but there are a large number of people buried in the three graves".

A BBC article in December 2007 noted that Laurent Nkunda rebels "are blamed for rapes, looting and massacres. Mass graves were found near Rutshuru, about 60 km north of Goma, after his men stormed the town about three months ago". It also noted that "The United Nations Mission in DR Congo (Monuc) has accused him of the forced recruitment of child soldiers and the government has issued an international warrant for his arrest".


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