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Cablegate: Setting the Record Straight On North Kivu's Idp

VZCZCXRO7275
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0539/01 1361523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161523Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6139
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000539

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV KPKO MOPS CG
SUBJECT: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON NORTH KIVU'S IDP
SITUATION

REF: A. KINSHASA 310
B. KINSHASA 201

1. (SBU) Summary: Contrary to recent press reports, there
have been no major displacement of civilians in North Kivu
province following operations against the FDLR. Humanitarian
and MONUC officials say, in fact, there have been relatively
few new IDPs there since late April. Those displaced since
January 2007 total some 113,000 and include those fleeing in
expectation of an offensive against the FDLR, the deployment
of "mixed" brigades in the province, and fighting between
local Mayi-Mayi militia. Officials estimate there are
approximately 190,000 who remain displaced since December
2006. End summary.

2. (SBU) Recent press reports have claimed a massive movement
of as many as 600,000 civilians in North Kivu following the
start of Congolese military (FARDC) operations against the
FDLR. Humanitarian and MONUC officials on the ground say
otherwise. In fact, there have been few new IDPs registered
since the offensive began in late April. Patrick
Lavand'homme, the OCHA director for North Kivu, told us May 9
his agency had not seen any massive displacements in the
previous three weeks. MONUC spokesman Kemal Saiki told us May
15 there have been at most 30,000 displaced in the last month.

3. (SBU) Lavand'homme and others said, though, that
approximately 113,000 new persons were registered as
displaced between January and April for several reasons.
First, many fled in anticipation of military operations
against the FDLR in the North Kivu territory of Rutshuru.
Second, the deployment of several "mixed" brigades caused
fear among some locals, who believed the forces loyal to
dissident General Laurent Nkunda in these units -- who had
recently been fighting government forces in these same
regions -- would commit exactions against those who had
opposed them. In fact, some displacement did occur because of
violations committed by certain "mixed" brigade troops,
notably Bravo Brigade in Rutshuru. Finally, fighting in March
and April between opposing factions of the region's Mayi-Mayi
(local defense forces) caused others to flee as well. All
three factors contributed to North Kivu's IDP problem before
the FARDC offensive against the FDLR began April 24.

4. (SBU) In addition to those displaced between January and
April, IDPs remain from fighting that occurred in Sake and
Rutshuru territory in November and December 2006 between the
FARDC and elements loyal to Nkunda. Some 130,000 were
displaced during that fighting, although 80,000 had returned
to their homes by the end of January; approximately 50,000
are still displaced. This wave of IDPs, added to those from
January-April, and those displaced after the late April
offensive against the FDLR, creates a total number of around
190,000 IDPs in the past six months. Lavand'homme and Saiki
both told us this is the most accurate figure to use when
discussing the most recent waves of IDPs.

5. (SBU) The figure of 600,000 is technically accurate but
misleading. As reported reftels, there remain several hundred
thousand long-term IDPs in North Kivu who have been displaced
for several years as a result of constant insecurity. Many
are actually located in the northern part of the province,
far from the current fighting against the FDLR. Humanitarian
officials have said the total number of IDPs is closer to
550,000, and they show no sign of crossing the borders into
Uganda or Rwanda in massive numbers.

6. (SBU) SRSG William Swing, on a visit to the province May
12 to review the current environment, said no one could be
satisfied with the situation in North Kivu. Noting the
frustration of the local population, Swing said MONUC would
continue to protect civilians and provide security, allowing
humanitarian groups to reach those in need. Lavand'homme said
he feared that continued operations against the FDLR could
worsen the situation, making it even more difficult for
relief workers to access affected areas.

7. (SBU) Comment: Figures regarding the number of IDPs should
be put in the context of North Kivu, which has for many years
seen significant displacements of populations followed by
their return several weeks or months later. The current
situation is cause for some concern as humanitarian
conditions worsen and security deteriorates. If military
operations continue as expected, these displacements will
continue, most likely in larger numbers and for longer

KINSHASA 00000539 002 OF 002


periods. Declarations of "hundreds of thousands" of IDPs
should also be viewed in light of the tendency of donor
conferences -- like the recent ones held by humanitarian
agencies in Geneva -- to inflate the numbers. End comment.
MEECE

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