Congo Watch: DR Congo: LRA attacks on city of Dungu 1 & 2 Nov 2008 - Entire population fled says UN's OCHA Situation Report No. 1, 05 Nov 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

DR Congo: LRA attacks on city of Dungu 1 & 2 Nov 2008 - Entire population fled says UN's OCHA Situation Report No. 1, 05 Nov 2008

From United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 05 Nov 2008 (via ReliefWeb)

DR Congo: Dungu, Orientale Province Situation Report No. 1, 05 Nov 2008
- LRA Attacks on the city of Dungu on 1 and 2 November

- Entire population has fled Dungu

- Evacuation of humanitarian actors, difficult access to IDPs

Political and security context

Attacks and exactions

Since 17 September, in the territory of Dungu in Orientale Province, in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, civilians have been victims of violence perpetrated by armed groups suspected to be Ugandan rebels of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Attacks and exactions against the civilian population (killings, lootings, attacks and kidnappings) have targeted several villages including those of Bangadi, Kana, Napopo, Li-Mayi, Nduga, Kpaika, Duru et Dungu. The attacks have caused casualties (at least 20 dead civilians since 19 October) and an increasing number of people were kidnapped by the rebels.

During the last weeks, Dungu town and the localities of Ngilima and Bangadi observed increasing activities of self-defence groups aiming to protect the population from LRA attacks.

Attacks on Dungu on 1 and 2 November

In the night of 31 October 31 to 01 November, around one hundred armed men infiltrated the city centre of Dungu on canoes. The previous day, they had attacked the villages of Nagonyo (20km N of Dungu), Kakalika (13km N of Dungu) and Nakofo (14km N of Dungu), causing the displacement of the population to the city of Dungu. Starting on 4 a.m., the rebels attacked FARDC positions in Dungu. When the rebels withdrew in the late morning hours, they abducted about 50 persons including 30 children, mostly girls. At least one civilian was killed during the fighting. On the afternoon of 2 November, another clash between FARDC and LRA occurred in a northern neighbourhood of Dungu, but the FARDC forces succeeded to have the LRA retreat. On 3 November, 12 hostages kidnapped on 1 November were found 12 km east of Dungu on the road to Faradje.

Departure of humanitarian actors

Following the first attack on Dungu, the staff of international NGOs left the town, either by land or by air. Four UN staff were evacuated by MONUC and brought to the MONUC base in Dungu. As of today, the humanitarian actors are not able to return to Dungu due to the prevailing insecurity.

Access and humanitarian space

Apart from the current inaccessibility of Dungu, humanitarian access in Dungu territory is already considerably restricted by other factors :

- Lack of security on the road Dungu-Duru-Bitima makes it inaccessible for humanitarians, as well as the delivering of assistance by land from South Sudan and/or Uganda via Yambio (South Sudan)-Bitima (DRC).

- Insecurity on the road Dungu-Ngilima-Bangadi impedes humanitarians to assess the situation in Ngilima and Bangadi, prior to any assistance.

- Moreover, the poor state of roads prevents humanitarians to move south of Dungu. In the rainy season, only bicycles and motorbikes can use the road to the southern localities.

Population movements

- The exactions perpetrated in different villages have caused massive population displacements. A vast area of 10 000 sq km, from the western edge of Garamba National Park in the western boundary of Mbomu (200 km) and the border with Sudan on the axis Dungu-Ngilima-Bangadi (50 km) has been depopulated.

- Before the attack on Dungu, estimates indicated 25 826 IDPs (5 166 households), without taking into account several thousands of IDPs who had arrived in Dungu from further north on October 31.

- Tens of thousands people were forced to flee their villages and to take refuge, in the south of the territory and the localities of Ngilima (45km NW of Dungu) and Bangadi (125km NW of Dungu), in Niangara territory, and in South Sudan (5 000, according to UNHCR).

- The attack on Dungu has caused the displacement of the entire population of the city (± 57 000), plus 6 000 IDPs, identified by Solidartiés/RRM, and about 5 000 IDPs who had just arrived from the northern axis. This population now is mainly concentrated in an area between 10 and 35 km south of Dungu, waiting for further developments. First timid returns have been indicated since 3 November.

Needs to meet and humanitarian response

Prior to the attack on Dungu, most IDPs in Dungu had found refuge in host families which had difficulties in providing enough food. Food supplies in Dungu were getting short since the main supply road to Bangadi is in a very bad shape and has become unsafe.

A humanitarian NGO has undertaken a multisectorial assessment in the city of Dungu in order to assess the situation of IPDs and their needs, based on vulnerability criteria in different sectors (shelter, NFI, watsan, emergency education, health, food security).

Following this evaluation, the humanitarian organizations (many NGOs and UN agencies) started to prepare activities (MSF-Swiss, SOLIDARITES, MEDAIR, WFP, LWF, CARITAS). At the time of the attack on the city, they were only awaiting the delivery of assistance to Dungu to start their operations. MSF-Swiss and MEDAIR had already transported medical equipment to Dungu.

Ongoing activities:

- Health: INGO MEDAIR-Isiro distributed medical supplies to eight health centers in Dungu territory. INGO LWF prepared the construction of 300 family latrines for the health zones in Dungu and Doruma.

- Health: MSF-Swiss received a humanitarian cargo for IDPs in Bangadi, Ngilima and surroundings (medicines, cold chain equipment for vaccination, equipments for a mobile clinic and water supply, NFI). However, parts of the population have already moved towards Niangara which is inaccessible by road since recent LRA attacks around Bangadi.

- Protection: UNICEF has set up four clusters: NFI and Watsan with Caritas as focal point, Education with APEC as focal point, assisted by AIDER, and Child Protection with CDJP as focal point. MEDAIR acts as Health focal point. In October, UNHCR organised trainings, in collaboration with UNICEF and OCHA, to sensitize 500 FARDC officers on Humanitarian principles, International Humanitarian Law, child protection and the new law on sexual violence.

For more information: http://www.rdc-humanitaire.net

Contacts:

- Jean-Charles Dupin, Chef de Bureau OCHA à Bunia, dupin@un.org, Tél. : +243 819 820 364

- Noel Tsekouras, Desk Officer OCHA New York, tsekouras@un.org, Tél.: + 1 917 367 93 67

- Christophe Illemassene, Public Information Manager, illemassene@un.org, Tél.: +243 819 889 195

- Ivo Brandau, Chargé d'information OCHA-RDC, brandau@un.org, Tél. : + 243 815 142 956

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