World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Congo: 4,000 Displaced Persons Reach Un Sanctuary

D.R Congo: 4,000 Displaced Persons Reach Un Sanctuary

Some 4,000 displaced people have escaped the clutches of militias in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), trekking for up to 80 kilometres though forests to reach sanctuary where they are receiving food and shelter from the United Nations refugee agency and its partners.

Their numbers are expected to grow. Some are still hiding in the nearby forest, naked and too ashamed to show themselves after ethnic Ngiti militiamen reportedly stripped fellow tribespeople trying to leave areas under their control. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Bukiringi, in the vast Orientale province, urgently need food and clothing.

The Ituri population is tired of militia rule, even if the self-proclaimed commanders come from their community, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"">UNHCR) representative Eusèbe Hounsokou said, referring to the province to the north from the IDPs fled.

They say they will not go back to their militia-controlled home areas, where they were virtual hostages.

The latest flights are just one of the many problems facing the huge country as it prepares to hold elections at the end of next month to cement its transition from a six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease - the most lethal conflict in the world since World War II.

The IDPs, mainly ethnic Ngiti, began arriving in Bukiringi in early June after receiving UN assurances about their safety. UN peace-keepers delivered a first shipment of aid to them by helicopter on 8 June.

International concern for them had mounted in May when DRC government forces, backed by UN peace-keepers, launched a successful offensive to capture the militia stronghold of Tchei. Thousands fled the town and UNHCR decided to start a protection programme amid reports that militias were forcing 10,000 civilians to stay with them.

Life on the run has become the norm for many communities in Ituri, where various militia groups have won a reputation for harassing and abusing civilians. The elderly and weak are often left behind as fighting forces another move in the harsh terrain.

The difference between refugees - those who have crossed an international border to escape violence and persecution in their homeland - and IDPs blurs in this volatile corner of Africa. UNHCRs humanitarian protection effort in Ituri is part of its expanded global role in caring for IDPs, who often face the same problems as refugees.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>


Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>