Attacks by armed groups displace more than 100,000 in DR Congo – UN

UN says no fewer than 100,000 people have been displaced and dozens killed, following a string of attacks by an armed group in North Kivu province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Citing humanitarian sources, UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said at a news conference on Wednesday in New York that more than 50,000 people displaced from the town of Rutshuru found safety in Kibirizi.

Some 55,000 people from Masisisi territory fled to nearby villages, as well as to the regional capital, Goma, and towards Minova in neigbouring South Kivu province.

Peacekeepers from the UN Stabilisation Mission (MONUSCO) sheltered 95 children at their base in the eastern town of Sake, including 50 children from an orphanage.

“This happened following weekend clashes in this area between the Congolese defence forces and the M23 armed group,” Dujarric said.

Four civilians died during the fighting and at least five others were wounded.

Peacekeepers provided medical assistance to the injured at their base, later evacuating them to Goma. The children were also transferred to a centre for children in the city.

Since early March, the ADF rebel group has reportedly killed at least 97 civilians in Beni territory, North Kivu province, according to MONUSCO.

Dujarric said due to ongoing joint operations between the Ugandan and Congolese defence forces, peacekeepers did not have access to the area south of Beni, where the suspected ADF members perpetrated the attacks.

“We along with our humanitarian partners are providing health support, education, food, water and sanitation among other much-needed services to thousands of people in Beni and surrounding areas.

“We are also working on scaling up our response,” he said.

Over the past year, ongoing violence has affected education for more than 600,000 children in North Kivu.

It has also uprooted more than 800,000 people in a country where more than six million are internally displaced.

Security Council ambassadors had recently visited DRC, spending time holding meetings in the capital, and then travelling to Goma in the east, where they also visited a MONUSCO base in the region, according to news reports.

The aim of the visit was to gain a better understanding of the security and humanitarian situation in North Kivu and the activities of the many armed groups operating there.

It was also to be briefed on human rights abuses, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which had exacerbated insecurity and conflict.

While in Goma, Council members reportedly paid tribute to peacekeepers from MONUSCO who have lost their lives in the line of duty, at an event where the UN Special Representative, Bintou Keita, who also heads MONUSCO, delivered remarks. (NAN)