Congo Watch: LRA killings in NE DR Congo is estimated at 537 - Another 408 kidnapped by LRA since Sept 2008

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LRA killings in NE DR Congo is estimated at 537 - Another 408 kidnapped by LRA since Sept 2008

According to UNHCR, LRA killings in DRC's Oriental Province is estimated at 537. Another 408 people have been kidnapped by LRA since Sept 2008. IDPs exceed 104,000.

UNHCR staff in Dungu reporting considerable, ongoing population movements in the direction of Faradje and areas south of Dungum while over 2,000 people have fled to Ezo in neighbouring South Sudan.

UNHCR is extremely concerned about the fate of residents who are now increasingly caught in a conflict zone near the borders of the DRC, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

Source: report from Newsroom America Tuesday 13 January 2009:
UGANDAN REBELS KILL OVER 500 IN CONGO: UN

A notorious Ugandan rebel group has killed more than 500 people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and kidnapped over 400, including several over the past four days, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva that they are increasingly concerned about the humanitarian situation and continuing attacks by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), on the civilian population in the DRC's Oriental Province.

UNHCR's team in the regional centre of Dungu said the death toll in the province bordering Uganda and South Sudan is now estimated at 537 people. Another 408 people have been kidnapped by LRA rebels since the outbreak of violence in September last year.

The rebels, who have been fighting Ugandan forces since the 1980s and have since spilled over into Sudan and DRC, are notorious for human rights abuses including the killing and maiming of civilians, and the abduction and recruitment of children as soldiers and sex slaves.

The Governments of DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan launched a joint military operation in mid-December to flush the LRA out of a remote national park in north-eastern DRC. The fleeing rebels are said to have committed grave human rights violations against civilians in the area.

Mr. Redmond said rough estimates of the number of forcibly displaced in the area have now surpassed 104,000.

"Many of these internally displaced people (IDPs) are still hiding in the bush, particularly in areas around the town of Faradje which was heavily hit during the Christmas period," says Mr Redmond.

Out of an estimated 37,000 people who escaped from Faradje, some 16,000 have been registered so far in Tadu and surrounding villages south of Faradje. More than 10,000 of them are children.

In the Dungu area, which was attacked by the LRA in September last year, the local Red Cross has just completed the registration of displaced in the town and 27 nearby villages. Out of 54,777 IDPs registered there, more than 27,000 are women and nearly 15,000 are children under the age of five.

The latest series of LRA attacks targeted villages and settlements south-west of Faradje, with the village of Tomati, 57 kilometres south-west of Faradje, being reduced to ashes on Saturday.

Mr Redmond says that throughout the region, sightings of LRA rebels are causing panic and new displacement, with UNHCR staff in Dungu reporting considerable, ongoing population movements in the direction of Faradje and areas south of Dungum while over 2,000 people have fled to Ezo in neighbouring South Sudan.

He says the UNHCR is extremely concerned about the fate of residents who are now increasingly caught in a conflict zone near the borders of the DRC, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

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