Refugee camps deserted as DRC fighting escalates
From JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – WHILE refugee centres ideally should be places of sanctuary, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of refugees have fled these centres following clashes between the army and armed groups.
Since end of March, five sites for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Mpati, have been emptied, forcing more than 35 000 refugees thousands to seek safety in surrounding villages.
Mpati is 100 kilometres southwest of Goma, the capital of the restive North Kivu Province.
“The past days have been difficult for those IDPs forced to leave the sites, prevented by the clashing forces from returning to those sites, and unable to get the humanitarian assistance that they need. I am deeply concerned by the situation,” the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator in DRC, Mamadou Diallo, said.
He noted access to the area has been difficult, notably because of the clashes.
Violence in North Kivu, affecting both civilians and aid organizations, has been rising since late 2014 resulting in renewed displacement.
The renewed displacement is taking place amid a shrinking of humanitarian funding while needs remain great.
During the current military operations in Mpati area, there have been threats of forced site closures. During a recent mission to DRC, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised concern.
North Kivu has about 781 000 IDPs, of whom 30 per cent are in one of the 53 displacement sites. There are seven IDP sites in the Mpati area hosting more than 45 000 people.
– CAJ News
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