GOMA, DR CONGO (BNO NEWS) — More than 40,000 people have been displaced following the recent outbreak of violence in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday.
Violent fighting between Government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to a former rebel commander, Bosco Ntaganda, reportedly took place on Saturday and Sunday in Runyonyi, an area south of Rutshuru territory, which is located in the volatile North Kivu province and north of the provincial capital, Goma. Ntaganda was previously indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Some of the displaced report cases of extortion, forced labor, forced recruitment of minors and beatings by armed men,” said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR). The office believes more than 40,000 people have been displaced due to the recent outbreak of violence.
Refugees have also continued to cross the border into neighboring Rwanda, but in much smaller numbers when compared to the start of the crisis at the end of April. On average, between 150 and 200 people have been crossing the border daily. As of Monday, a total of 9,671 refugees from the DRC have been registered at the Nkamira transit center, more than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the border. Some 510 people have voluntarily returned to the DRC, including students who decided to return to sit their end-of-school-year exams.
Fleming said the agency has continued providing assistance at the crowded center in Rwanda as plans advance to construct a new refugee camp in the southern region of the country. “Shelter and health remain our key concerns,” she underlined, as UNHCR and aid agencies, including the UN World Food Program (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross, will soon start distributing relief supplies, including food and medicines to the displaced.
Meanwhile, in Uganda, UNHCR and the Ugandan police have, over the past week, been moving refugees from the Bunagana border crossing to the Nyakabande transit center, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) inside Uganda. Some 11,261 Congolese have been registered at Nyakabande since May 11.
In the light of the latest displacements, WFP is reinforcing its emergency operations, and the agency said it requires at least $ 36 million immediately to help an estimated 500,000 people until the end of the year.