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Cablegate: Goma Report for September 25:

VZCZCXRO2109
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0805/01 2700752
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 260752Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8495
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000805

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KPKO PHUM PREF CG
SUBJECT: Goma Report for September 25:
Humanitarian Round-Up

Following report was submitted by USG employees (USAID/OFDA) on site
in the eastern Congo:

1. Summary: Of 100,000 civilians displaced or re-displaced (50
percent) in the Petit Nord in the first two weeks of September, 65
percent had returned by the third week. Ngungu was the main
exception. Humanitarian workers are beginning to return to the area
(keeping apart of MONUC except where escorts are essential), but so
far for evaluating the situation rather than resuming distributions.
End summary.

2. OCHA North Kivu director Patrick Lavand'homme offered the
following overview of the humanitarian situation in North Kivu, in a
conversation on the evening of September 24.

3. OCHA estimates that fighting in late August and the first two
weeks of September produced 100,000 IDPs, of whom 50 percent were
already displaced. These IDPs came from every direction: North in a
broad area from Kashuga to Katsiru, Nyanzale, Kibirizi, and Kikuku,
south in the Ngungu to Numbi area, east especially around
Ntamugenga, and west around Bihambwe.

4. This figure of 100,000 did not include the displacement that
resulted from fighting in the western sector, around Masisi, in the
third week of September. However, the IDPs there (including the
clearing out of the IDP camps at Lushebere and Bungwi) had largely
returned to their homes or camps within a day or two after CNDP
ended its attack on September 19.

5. OCHA estimates that 65 percent of this 100,000 had returned to
their homes or camps, in much the same pattern as occurred around
Masisi, i.e., out and in surprisingly quickly. For example, 25,000
persons were on the move in the direction of Kanyabayonga and Kaina
after the CNDP's northward thrust beginning September 5, but within
a week OCHA calculated the number at only 1500. This pattern of
quick flight and quick return stands in contrast to the pattern of
last December and January, when civilians who fled largely did not
return.

6. The major exception to quick return is the area of Ngungu, where
the IDPs that have clustered around the MONUC base are refusing to
go back. One possible explanation is that, while MONUC persuaded
(without use of force against) PARECO to leave Ngungu town, PARECO
remains threateningly close to Ngungu. Another is that the populace
equally fears the CNDP.

7. Most of the humanitarian workers pulled out of rural Petit Nord
during the first two weeks of September, meaning that distribution
of food and health, hygiene, and water-sanitation efforts came to a
stop for 500,000 people. MSF and Mercy Corps remained in Rutshuru
but otherwise the humanitarians pulled out. More than ten health
centers were looted, mainly by the FARDC (although one truck
delivering medicine to Masisi was looted by CNDP last week).
Several humanitarian trucks were requisitioned by FARDC and by CNDP
to transport troops. Premiere Urgence attempted a food distribution
with six trucks in the northern area (Kibirizi) on September 7, but
fleeing and angry FARDC soldiers stirred up the populace, who
blocked the convoy, which also had trouble on its return getting
past the IDP camp at Kibumba. MSF was stoned at Sake (apparently
because MSF was mistaken for MONUC), and a WFP convoy came close to
the same fate in Goma (but fortunately was able to explain to crowds
that WFP was not MONUC). In MONUC's attempted overland evacuation
of OCHA and NGOs from Minova, the road south was blocked by the
local populace, stirred up against MONUC. ACF staff were able to
make their way south with an escort by moving cautiously from
village to village.

8. In the fourth week of September, humanitarian access began to
recommence, but only tentatively and for purposes of evaluation of
needs rather than distribution (much greater logistics involved in
the latter). OCHA and NGOs came to the conclusion that any effort
to regain humanitarian space would be better accomplished without
MONUC escort or presence (given increased popular animosity toward
MONUC), except in clearly dangerous areas. Thus, for example, when
NGOs evacuated Masisi on September 20, it was necessary to use a
MONUC escort for the overland return to Goma (the road crossing
conflict lines twice).

9. OCHA and NGOs retain channels of communication to CNDP, which
are essential to any effort to maintain assistance to the IDPs in
the Mweso-Kitchanga area (largely displaced from Kashuga), but these
can become erratic and even be cut off completely during offensives
by either side. MSF at the hospital at Mweso was anxious September
24 about the FARDC buildup nearby at Katsiro, but MONUC assured MSF
that a FARDC attack on Mweso was unlikely, and in fact, FARDC
attacked at points to the east.

KINSHASA 00000805 002 OF 002

10. Rutshuru appears to be relatively accessible, despite the
artillery barrage that took place at Rugari and the hold-up of IRC
in broad daylight on the main road south of Rutshuru September 24.
(Note: OCHA staff encountered Col. Delphin near Rugari on September
24. He informed them that this barrage into the hills was being
conducted to forestall any effort by CNDP to cut off FARDC's supply
lines along the Rutshuru road. End note.) The camps at Masisi
center and Lushebere and Bugwi are worrying because the food
distribution was due two weeks ago. There is no humanitarian or
other access to Bunagana sector, including even by ICRC to the
hospital at Rwanguba (where there could be CNDP casualties), after
the closure of the road at Burai. OCHA will investigate whether
access might be possible from the Ugandan side. (Note: Such a move
would need to be closely coordinated with the government, as FARDC
might overreact if it sensed that the border-closing edicts were
being bypassed and it had not been informed. End note.)

11. In Walikale territory, there is concern about the populace in
the Kibua area (midway between Walikale and Masisi), after the 21st
and 11th battalions (trained by MONUC to combat FDLR) were
redeployed forward into the Petit Nord. The populace had been at
first resistant to the presence of these battalions, having become
accustomed to FDLR, but in fact the battalions behaved well and the
populace came to accept them. Now the populace is worried that if
85th brigade, based in Walikale, does not act, FDLR or renegade
FARDC units will reoccupy the area and wreak retribution.

12. Lavand'homme concluded that the situation in the Petit Nord
remains too unstable to give a complete green light to recommenced
distributions, despite urgency in some cases.

BROCK

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