Monday, July 27, 2009

1.8 Million Uprooted In Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Says UN Report

GENEVA 24 July 2009 Sapa-dpa


Continued forced displacements in the eastern part of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo has raised the total number of
uprooted people there to 1.8 million, the United Nations Refugee
Agency (UNHCR) said Friday.

Since the beginning of the year, 536,000 people have been
displaced in the South Kivu region as a result of clashes between
government troops and Rwandan rebels from the Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an ethnic-Hutu group.

The government launched a military campaign on July 12 to disarm
the rebels.

The UN also noted "reprisal attacks" on civilians, including
internally displaced people (IDPs).

"There are widespread reports from IDPs of atrocities, including
accusations of murder, rape and torture, on the part of the FDLR
rebels," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

Redmond added that there were also accounts of arbitrary
arrests, kidnappings and extortion by armed groups.

UNHCR evaluations showed that the civilians fleeing the violence
"need food, water, medical supplies and basic aid items," said
Redmond. His agency was trying to identify people with special
needs, including victims of sexual violence.

Humanitarian aid groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors
Without Borders) say rape is being used as a weapon against the
civilian population in DRCongo.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also
noted crimes against the civilian population similar to those
reported by the UN.

A recent survey carried out for the ICRC found that: 76 per cent
of the country's population has been affected in some way by the
armed conflict; 58 per cent have been displaced; 47 per cent have
lost a close relative; and 28 per cent know someone who has fallen
victim to sexual violence.

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