Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
Civilians fleeing fighting in east forced into makeshift camps


Photo: Tiggy Ridley/IRIN
Displaced women carry water in North Kivu. Fighting between government troops and rebels has displaced thousands of civilians in the province
KINSHASA, 25 April 2007 (IRIN) - Civilians fleeing fighting between Congolese government troops and rebel militias in North Kivu Province have been forced to shelter in makeshift camps 100km from Goma town, aid workers said.

Thousands of others are living in the bush, hiding during the day and going to their fields at night.

Humanitarian sources said thousands of people had been displaced since clashes between the two groups started in January, including more than 64,000 who fled their homes in North Kivu alone over recent weeks.

"The deployment of the mixed brigades and repeated clashes between the army and armed groups have caused the displacement of more than 100,000 people in this area," said Andrew Zadel, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Goma.

The latest fighting flared up on Tuesday as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) troops launched an offensive against Rwandan rebels hiding in the east of the vast country.

"The mixed brigades of the army [FARDC] launched a general counter-offensive in North Kivu against the positions of Rwandan fighters of the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and of a group called Rasta," Col Delphin Kahindi, the army commander in Goma military region, Orientale Province, told IRIN.

The Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo (FARDC) is an integrated national army, comprising former rebel fighters, militias and soldiers from the former national army. Human rights groups, however, say the soldiers are responsible for human rights violations in Orientale Province.

The Rwandan fighters are accused of perpetrating the 1994 genocide in their home country, before fleeing to hide in DRC. Some are using children to fight for them, according to human rights groups.

Photo: OCHA
Map of North Kivu
"The objective of the operation is to push back the rebels towards zones where nobody lives and to secure roads and villages," said Kahindi. The rebels, he added, were already being forced back towards the Virunga national park.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed more food to 68,000 displaced people in North Kivu and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plans to take up reports by victims that armed groups have committed serious human rights abuses with the Congolese military and local authorities.

"The latest fighting underlines the need for a strong humanitarian presence in eastern Congo," said Charles Vincent, WFP country director in the DRC.

A spokesman for the UN Mission in Congo, Maj Gen Gabriel de Brosses, said 10,000 persons had fled Walungu region in the past three days because of the counterattack against the FDLR and the Rasta. "People are awaiting the end of the military operations; they will then be able to return to their villages," he said.

Congolese military authorities acknowledged that ongoing clashes had caused displacements of civilians, but insisted there had not been any significant waves of people fleeing in the last few weeks.

"The army has taken precautions in order not to have a massive displacement of [civilians]," Kahindi said.

WFP and UNHCR noted that while violence had continued in one part of eastern Congo, stability elsewhere had allowed more than 96,000 refugees to return home. Some had been away for eight years in neighbouring countries.

According to the UN, more than 1.1 million Congolese are displaced within their own country by conflict and persecution.

Related stories


@Congoplanet |

Related articles

  1. At least 30 dead after massacres in Ituri (March 2, 2018)
  2. Peacekeepers, Congo Army to Resume Joint Fight Against Rwandan Rebels (January 28, 2016)
  3. Political tensions 'running high' in DR Congo ahead of 2016 elections (October 7, 2015)
  4. DRC Army Putting Pressure on FDLR (April 1, 2015)
  5. Southern African Leaders to Meet in Zimbabwe (August 15, 2014)
  6. Kerry Calls on Kabila to Honor Constitution (May 4, 2014)
  7. Security Council extends UN mission, intervention force in DR Congo for one year (March 28, 2014)
  8. New DR Congo amnesty law welcomed by UN envoys (February 5, 2014)
  9. Colonel Mamadou Ndala Is Killed in Ambush (January 2, 2014)
  10. No 'Peace Deal' With Defeated M23 Rebels, DR Congo Says (November 11, 2013)
  11. Congo Will Not Sign a 'Peace Deal' With Defeated M23 Rebels, Government Says (November 6, 2013)
  12. Congo Army Takes Control of Mbuzi Hill From M23 Rebels (November 4, 2013)
  13. Kabila Congratulates Congo Army for Defeating M23 Rebels (October 30, 2013)
  14. Advancing Congo Troops Take Control of Rumangabo From M23 Rebels (October 28, 2013)
  15. Congo Army Liberates Rutshuru, Kiwanja and Kibumba From M23 Rebels (October 27, 2013)
  16. Congo Army Dislodges M23 Rebels From Strategic Town of Kibumba (October 26, 2013)
  17. Ban Ki-moon Confirms M23 Rebels Shelled Rwanda (August 31, 2013)
  18. DR Congo Will Defend Itself Against an Attack by Rwanda, Government Says (August 31, 2013)
  19. M23 Rebels Fired Shells Into Rwanda, Not Congo Army, UN Says (August 30, 2013)
  20. Mortar Shells From Rwanda Kill Civilians in Eastern Congo (August 23, 2013)
  21. Dozens of M23 Rebels Killed by Congo Army in Renewed Fighting (August 22, 2013)
  22. UN Peacekeepers Start Enforcing Security Zone in Eastern Congo (August 1, 2013)
  23. UN Security Council debate focuses on peace efforts for Africa's Great Lakes region (July 25, 2013)
  24. M23 Rebels Said to Flee Rumangabo After Congo Army Airstrikes (July 25, 2013)
  25. Congo Army Strikes M23 Rebels Base At Rumangabo (July 24, 2013)
  26. M23 Rebels Kill, Rape Civilians in Eastern Congo: Human Rights Watch (July 22, 2013)
  27. M23 Rebels in Disarray in Eastern Congo, Says Government Spokesman (July 19, 2013)
  28. 120 M23 Rebels Killed in East, Government Says (July 15, 2013)
  29. U.S. Sanctions M23 Rebel Leaders (December 18, 2012)
  30. The M23 Rebels Want to Overthrow Kabila? Nonsense (November 28, 2012)

Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio
Available on App Store
Get it on Google Play

Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© All rights reserved.