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Villagers flee rebel attacks in South Kivu

11:10 PM

Photo: Tiggy Ridley/IRIN
The civilians have fled to the town of Walungu Centre
KINSHASA, 13 April 2007 (IRIN) - Weeks of attacks by Rwandan rebels on villagers in South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, have forced several thousand people to abandon their homes for Walungu town, a United Nations official has said.

"In Walungu Centre, there are 1,590 displaced families of 7,450 people and more are continuing to arrive," Modibo Traore, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bukavu, the main town in the province said on Thursday.

The displaced are fleeing three weeks of attacks in their villages in the territory of Walungu by the Forces democratiques pour liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels who are attacking them along with another Rwandan rebel group, the Rasta.

According to the displaced, the FDLR and the Rasta pillaged their villages, killed people, and took hostages during the attacks.

Most of the displaced are living with other families sharing what little food is available, while a small number of the displaced are under the care of humanitarian agencies, Traore said.

''The displaced are continuing to flee and a good number are going to places that are difficult to access''
He added that assistance for the displaced has not yet been organised, and that the humanitarian agencies are still in the process of making an inventory of the number of displaced people continuing to arrive.

However, he noted that emergency assistance had been distributed to pregnant women, which should last a couple of days.

"The number of people displaced must be higher because the displaced are continuing to flee and a good number are going to places that are difficult to access or [are] inaccessible," he said.

Traore concluded that despite a decree on Tuesday by the governor of South Kivu to ensure the security of humanitarian workers, the aid agencies had still not been able to access some areas.

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