Cablegate: Goma Report September 10 -

DE RUEHKI #0746/01 2550938
R 110938Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report September 10 -
Action spreads to Minova

Following report was co-written by Amy Sink (USAID/OFDA) and Haywood
Rankin and Geoff Parker (STATE):

1. (SBU) Summary: CDNP forces on September 10 remain within
striking distance of the strategic town of Kanyabayonga (well north
of the normal area of CNDP control), but MONUC has strengthened its
presence there and CNDP has not moved further north. Meanwhile,
heavy fire erupted in the hills west of Kirotshe and Bweramana
(south of Sake) between CNDP and FARDC/Mai Mai, and there are
reports that CNDP has cut the road to South Kivu or taken or
occupied parts of Minova (on Lake Kivu just in South Kivu), but
these remain unconfirmed. OCHA says there has been significant
human displacement in the Petit Nord over the past two weeks, and
humanitarian access has been seriously affected by the insecurity.
If current insecurity persists, the upcoming planting season and
harvest will be negatively impacted, thus further exacerbating food
insecurity. End Summary.

CNDP advances toward Kanyabayonga halted

2. (SBU) The CNDP force that arrived at Kayala, 20 km south of
Kanyabayonga, on September 9 apparently remains there but has not
attempted to move on Kanyabayonga or otherwise cut the main road
north. CNDP may have had a firefight further west with FDLR at
Bikende. North Kivu brigade affirms that FARDC moved its 31st
battalion, which recently finished training with MONUC for action
against FDLR, down from the Grand Nord to a position at Mirangi, on
the road from Kayala to Kanyabayonga. The 31st battalion appears to
be holding its ground or even advancing toward the CNDP force at

3. (SBU) Meanwhile, the North Kivu brigade has significantly
reinforced its presence in Kanyabayonga and moved into commanding
positions in the hills around the city and its presence there may
deter CNDP from a direct attack on Kanyabayonga. North Kivu brigade
now affirms that CNDP is occupying the village of Kibirizi (which is
about the same distance south of the main highway, at Rwindi, as
Kayala is south of the highway at Kanyabayonga), meaning that CNDP
has some presence in a 15-km-wide band between Nyanzale and the

New fighting near Kirotshe and Bweramana

4. (SBU) At opening of day September 10, fighting erupted in yet a
new area, in the hills west of Kirotshe and Bweramana (on Lake Kivu
south of Sake), with heavy firing between CNDP and FARDC with Mai
Mai Cobra (closely allied to FARDC). Some shots landed on North
Kivu brigade's base at Kirotshe. Reports from NGOs through the day
suggested that CNDP had cut the road to South Kivu and even occupied
or at least "been present in" Minova (port just south of the
provincial border), but these reports are not confirmed by MONUC. A
source living inside Minova said at 17:00 that there was "still
shooting going on" in the small town. South Kivu brigade, according
to Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Cunliffe, affirmed at dusk that there
was a "CNDP threat" to Minova but that the South Kivu brigade base
(Pakistani) there was not under attack. It estimated that 400 IDP's
had moved to Minova from areas to the north and west in the course
of the day. Some forty NGO personnel had also moved there, and were
evacuated by sea.

5. (SBU) Meanwhile, there was sporadic exchange of fire all day
around Ntamugenga (south of Rutshuru), an area in the informal
buffer zone that has been contentious ever since August 29, when
FARDC occupied it.

6. (SBU) In the Ndosho quarter of Goma, on the road west to Sake, a
MONUC truck was attacked by a crowd, the first recent instance in
Goma of anti-MONUC fervor that has been most notable in the Rutshuru
area. On September 9, an MSF vehicle was attacked by a crowd in
Sake, apparently because it was mistaken for being MONUC.

IDP flows increase

7. (SBU) The U.S. team in Goma met OCHA's Goma chief Patrick
Lavand'homme September 10 for an overview of the humanitarian
dimension of the crisis of the past two weeks. He estimated that
there has been significant human displacement in the Petit Nord,
including 55,000 IDP's who have been re-displaced. He said that
numerous towns and villages have been largely emptied of population.
These include the Rutshuru corridor (he cited in particular

KINSHASA 00000746 002.5 OF 003

Ntamugenga and Karambi, east of Mutabo), the Nyanzale area (he cited
Kibirizi and Katwe), Numbi (in South Kivu), the Mweso area (he cited
Kashuga and Katsiru), and lower Tongo. The Rutshuru corridor,
Nyanzale area, and Numbi have all seen fighting during this period.
Tongo is located at the edge of CNDP-controlled terrain west of
Rutshuru, where there has not so far been fighting, and the
departure of the population on the lower flank of the escarpment at
Tongo remains a mystery.

8. (SBU) Kashuga was, until a week ago, the extreme northwest point
of CNDP control, where CNDP directly confronted PARECO, Mai Mai
Mongol, and FDLR. CNDP abandoned it just prior to the beginning of
its move against JTN, Katsiru, and Nyanzale, apparently needing to
remove forces there in order to effect the thrust north. NGO's
present in Mweso and Kitchanga have witnessed throngs of civilians
on the road from Mweso to Kitchanga fleeing Kashuga (where PARECO or
Mai Mai Mongol have now perpetrated "uncontrollable looting"),
villages between Kashuga and Mweso, and Mweso itself. MSF has
evacuated its personnel from its hospital at Mweso. CNDP appears to
have thinned forces near its center, in order to disperse them
toward attacks in the far north and south of its range.
Lavand'homme said that there has also been movement of civilian
population along the Masisi road from Bihambwe to Matanda (i.e.,
people within the area of CNDP control are moving east away from the
western edge of CNDP control along the road), apparently fearing a
FARDC build-up at Katale.

Humanitarian Access

9. (SBU) Displacement from Numbi in South Kivu has reportedly been
southwards towards Kalungu. Humanitarian presence has been reduced
to minimal or no staff in many areas, particularly in Rutshuru. In
Rutshuru town, Mercy Corps is one of the few NGO's remaining,
providing water services to the collection of nearby IDP camps. In
western Rutshuru, most NGO's have evacuated with the exception of
Kitchanga (MSF and ICRC) and Mweso (only MSF). IRC and Save the
Children have attempted to reach Kitchanga, but as of this afternoon
were experiencing difficulties in Sake. This would be a disturbing
trend if continued as it would essentially cut off western Rutshuru
and much of Masisi.

10. (SBU) Humanitarian access has also been impeded on occasions by
the armed groups on either side. OCHA reported that last week one
WFP food convoy was stopped. Drivers were told to unload their
cargo and transport troops. Two of the four trucks have yet to be
recovered. Similarly, a FARDC commander in Kanyabayonga took the
keys from a humanitarian truck driver with the same intent of moving
his troops; fortunately, he was eventually dissuaded. Such
incidences may seriously compromise the neutrality of humanitarian
agencies in the eyes of both armed groups and civilians.

Food Security Situation

11. (SBU) The current food security situation in North Kivu is
tenuous. Humanitarian access to IDP camps, host communities, and
newly displaced populations is severely limited by ongoing fighting
and increasing hostile reactions toward international organizations
by communities. On September 8, IDP's in Kibumba camp protested
against MONUC and UN World Food Program (WFP) trucks which were
returning to Goma. In addition, OCHA reports that two
WFP-contracted trucks which were commandeered by CNDP for troop
movements last week remain missing. (Note: WFP has not confirmed
this information. End note.)

12. (SBU) This latest fighting and resulting displacement are
occurring right as the planting season commences prior to the rainy
season. Should this latest episode of insecurity prevent people
from accessing their fields for more than a few weeks, the following
harvest will likely be compromised, thus further exacerbating food
insecurity. According to WFP, this would be the fourth consecutive
harvest to be negatively impacted by the conflict. People have
reportedly prematurely harvested some of their crops to avoid
pillage by armed groups. They have also planted soy, a less
desirable crop to steal due to the long time required to cook it.

13. (SBU) WFP's logistical operations have also been impacted by
the violence. Food convoys which were to cross into DRC from Uganda
via the Bunagana border post have been diverted to Ishasha and
Gisenyi border posts due to the closure of Bunagana. To date,
however, the diversions have only resulted in minor delays to the
trucks' arrival in Goma.

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