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New movement of displaced in Ituri District

BUNIA, 8 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - Some 1,000 people have arrived in the southern suburbs of Bunia, the main town of Ituru District, fleeing fighting approximately 50 km farther south, according to local officials.

"The people have no choice but to flee," Akobi Katorogo, the chief of the Walendus Bindi Collective said in Bunia. "The militias treat them as army collaborators and are executed [when caught], while the army accuses them of giving information to the enemy."

He said thousands of displaced people were hiding in the valley near their homes and in the bush. They come from the towns of Kagaba and Getty, respectively about 47 km and 60 km south of Bunia. Many fled ahead of fighting between government forces and a coalition of militia forces, based at the nearby town of Tcheyi, known as le Mouvement Révolutionnaires au Congo and the former fighters of the Front des Résistants Patriotiques en Ituri.

More than 2000 of the militiamen have refused to disarm. Since October 2005, the UN Mission in the DRC, or MONUC, has been supporting the army's effort to dislodge this militia from Tcheyi.

A committee for the displaced at the town of Dele, 3 km south of Bunia, registered more than 500 who arrived there on Sunday, the committee secretary Masumbuko Musangura said. Some spent a night in a church and others under a mango tree.

The newly displaced join 13,300 others who have been displaced from the Tcheyi area since January, according to the Bunia UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Another thousand people recently arrived at the town of Katoni, 25 km south of Bunia, unable to proceed farther on foot.

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