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Cablegate: Democratic Republic of the Congo - Skirmishes and Squabbles

VZCZCXRO4289
OO RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1188/01 2821131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091131Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6996
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5095
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2110
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0546
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINSHASA 001188

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USAID/W
USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, KCHANNELL, MSHIRLEY
DCHA/FFP FOR TANDERSON, NCOX, TMCRAE
DCHA/OTI FOR RJENKINS, KHUBER
AFR FOR BDUNFORD, CTHOMPSON
NAIROBI FOR USAID/OFDA/ECARO JMYER, ADWYER
NAIROBI FOR USAID/FFP DSUTHER
GENEVA FOR NYKYLOH
NSC FOR PMARCHAM
BRUSSELS FOR USAID PLERNER
NEW YORK FOR TMALY
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PHUM CG

SUBJECT: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO - SKIRMISHES AND SQUABBLES
SURROUND GOMA AREA SETTLEMENT SITES

REFS: A. KINSHASA 01141 B. KINSHASA 01137 C. KINSHASA 1151

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. During the last week of September, small skirmishes involving
the Congolese military and various armed groups in North Kivu
Province resumed, leading several thousand newly-displaced persons
to flee to Goma-area settlement sites. Site visits by USAID's
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) staff confirm that
response efforts are underway to meet priority needs of internally
displaced persons (IDP's), but living conditions and available
resources vary among sites, and additional space is needed for the
growing IDP population. Squabbles continued within the humanitarian
community regarding registration and response activities for IDP's.
End summary.

--------------------
SCATTERED SKIRMISHES
--------------------

2. While the government recently issued an ultimatum for troops
loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda to join the military
integration ("brassage") process by October 15 or face military
action, UN agencies noted renewed small clashes between Democratic
Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), Mai-Mai, Nkunda, and government
troops in various locations in Masisi and Rutshuru territories in
southern North Kivu throughout the last week of September (ref C).


3. In Masisi, skirmishes reportedly took place in Mweso, Kichanga,
Nyabiondo, Karuba, Shasha, Rubaya, Ngungu, and Kalengele towns. In
Rutshuru, Mai-Mai troops reportedly gained control of Kibirizi, FDLR
and Mai-Mai elements clashed between Kiseguru and Kirumba, and
Nkunda forces temporarily blocked the road between Rutshuru and
Bunagana. While the unpredictable security environment limited
humanitarian assessments to determine the impact on local
populations, an estimated 5,000 new IDP's arrived in Goma-area
settlements in late September, and relief agencies report a slow but
steady rate of continued arrivals.

4. The presence and periodic confrontations of these groups has
numerous negative consequences for nearby resident and displaced
populations. In addition to disrupting livelihoods and uprooting
communities, humanitarian staff have received reports of troops
looting towns, forcibly recruiting new soldiers, committing acts of
sexual violence, harassing IDP's at water points, and stealing UN
World Food Program emergency food rations.

5. According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), residents
in Kabaya, Karambi, and Mutabo in southeastern Rutshuru have
reported increasingly degrading and frequent sexual assaults by
armed men over the past four months. IRC stated that all groups
were implicated in the attacks, although FDLR and FARDC were
specifically mentioned in the area surrounding Karambi and Mutabo.
Several relief agencies have received reports of forced recruitment
of adult and child soldiers by Nkunda forces in multiple locations
in Masisi and Rutshuru. In addition, relief organizations are
concerned that distributions to the estimated 4,800 IDP families
settled next to a military base in Kabaya could incite looting by
the government soldiers.

----------------------------
SERVICES AT SETTLEMENT SITES
----------------------------

6. Humanitarian agencies continue to provide and expand relief
activities for IDP's in the five settlement sites west of Goma.

KINSHASA 00001188 002 OF 003


Although space and some services vary by site, health care is
available to all IDP's through an OFDA-funded program, water and
sanitation activities are in place at four of the sites, and relief
agencies are beginning to provide potable water and soap at the
fifth site. The following summary of humanitarian conditions,
response efforts, and gaps at each site is based on a September 26
inter-agency assessment and a September 29 OFDA staff site visit.

7. The estimated 10,400 IDP's at Bulengo, the largest and first
official site in the area, have convenient access to a broad range
of relief programs. Two water bladders provide safe drinking water;
latrines are posted throughout the site; and OFDA partner
International Medical Corps (IMC) has set up a temporary health
center with free 24-hour primary and maternal care. Referrals are
available from Bulengo and all Goma-area IMC health centers for
suspected cholera cases or more critical health conditions.
Widely-spaced huts at Bulengo are covered with plastic sheeting,
distributed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) in mid-September along with additional emergency relief
supplies and government-provided lentils and vegetable oil. In
addition, counseling services are available for victims of sexual
and gender-based violence, and the UN Children's Fund is preparing
alternate education programs for displaced children.

8. IDP's at Mugunga One, Mugunga Two, and Lac Vert were also
eligible to receive plastic sheeting and emergency relief supplies
from the Bulengo distribution, and clean water, IMC health services,
and latrines are available at or near each site. While the quantity
of drinking water differs among the sites, additional water is
available from nearby Lake Kivu, and teams are permanently stationed
at several points along the lake to provide chlorine tablets, since
cholera is endemic to Lake Kivu. Based on OFDA and NGO discussions
with IDP's at the various sites, the population appears well-versed
in the importance of using the chlorine tablets for water taken from
the lake.

9. Current response priorities include identifying additional sites
for existing and newly-arriving IDP's, water and sanitation
interventions at Ndosho, and the provision of relief supplies to
IDP's who arrived after the mid-September Bulengo distribution.

10. Relief staff and local authorities agree that moving IDP's from
Lac Vert and Ndosho to a newly approved sixth site at Buhimba is a
top priority. The transfer will provide a safer environment for
IDP's currently at the roadside Lac Vert site, will enable classes
to resume in the school currently housing IDP's, and permit relief
agencies to provide more substantial assistance at Ndosho. However,
Buhimba has capacity for only an estimated 1,500 households, which
is insufficient for the estimated 2,300 households currently at Lac
Vert and Ndosho and an additional 1,000 newly-arrived households at
Nzulo. Furthermore, tightly-packed huts at both Mugunga One and
Mugunga Two present a fire hazard from open cooking fires, and local
officials have already indicated that the Mugunga Two site can not
be expanded.

11. Of the five Goma-area sites, emergency response activities have
been most limited at Ndosho, where an estimated 400 households have
not received emergency relief supplies since arriving from Munigi
after the Bulengo distribution (ref A). Until September 29, relief
agencies had not established water or sanitation facilities at the
site owing to disagreements over whether to provide services to this
group at their current location or waiting to register and move them
to a new official settlement area. Despite dissenting opinions at
humanitarian coordination meetings, Mercy Corps has since begun
working to provide potable water and soap to the Ndosho IDP's. OFDA
staff note that tension and differing approaches between relief
agencies in Goma likely contributed to delays in response efforts to
the Ndosho IDP's.


KINSHASA 00001188 003 OF 003


---------------
STAFF SQUABBLES
---------------

12. Infighting within the humanitarian community in Goma has
resumed in recent days. Disagreements over current estimates of the
IDP population near Goma, appropriate registration and response
methods for the Ndosho and recent IDP's, and assistance to local
security forces aggravate existing tensions (ref B).

13. Current estimates of the number of IDP's at Ndosho, Lac Vert,
Mugunga One, and Mugunga Two are greatly contested, fueling debates
over how much assistance is required. For example, some relief
agencies estimate the number of households at Ndosho is around 400
based on day and night-time visual accounts. However, a list
provided by IDP's at the site, cited by other organizations, claims
2,477 families at Ndosho. Furthermore, there is currently no system
in place to track any returning or newly arriving IDP's.

14. Several agencies have repeatedly called for distributions of
relief supplies to new arrivals and Ndosho-based IDP's, as well as
food aid for vulnerable households in each Goma-area site. IMC is
providing emergency food rations for 600 families with malnourished
children. However, WFP and UNICEF are unwilling to conduct general
distributions based on registration lists that are widely
acknowledged to be faulty, and UNHCR is insistent that any
additional food or non-food distributions must be carried out
equally at all sites. This standoff contributed to the two-week
delay in providing drinking water at Ndosho, and has prevented new
arrivals from receiving relief commodities until a follow-up
registration is conducted.

15. As of October 1, a team comprised of UNHCR, Norwegian Refugee
Council (NRC), and Save the Children/UK is preparing to register
both existing and newly-arriving IDP populations near Goma.
Following the registration, which is expected to take two to three
weeks, IDP's from Ndosho and Lac Vert are slated to be moved to a
new settlement site at Buhimba, pending final authorization from
local officials. Humanitarian and government agencies have both
determined Buhimba to be a viable site.

16. Another recurring source of tension are differing approaches to
providing assistance to local police forces. At the Inter-Agency
Standing Committee meeting for North Kivu on October 1, UNHCR
announced a decision taken jointly with MONUC and NRC to provide
food assistance to local police forces as an "incentive", and to
prevent looting of IDP food stocks. However, the NRC representative
at the meeting was not aware of the decision, and OCHA along with
several NGOs stated that the group's policy on providing support to
local security forces had not changed since an earlier UNHCR
proposal to pay police for protection services. The issue is slated
to be reviewed at the next committee meeting on October 8.

BROCK

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