DR Congo Displacement Crisis sees 71,000 Flee in 3 Months-Report

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In short
In October, 2014, UNHCR registered 1,737 incidents in the territories of Kalemie and the so-called "triangle of death" between the towns of Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto in northern Katanga. These included the looting and burning of houses, extortion, torture, forced labour and recruitment into armed groups, as well as sexual violence.

Looting, torture and rape in Democratic Republic of Congo's "triangle of death" has pushed up the numbers of internally displaced people to nearly 600,000 in one province alone, The UN Refugee agency UNHCR says.

The agency observes that Violence in the south-eastern Katanga province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes since the end of 2012. More than 71,000 of these fled their homes in the resource-rich province during the last three months.

In October, 2014, UNHCR registered 1,737 incidents in the territories of Kalemie and the so-called "triangle of death" between the towns of Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto in northern Katanga. These included the looting and burning of houses, extortion, torture, forced labour and recruitment into armed groups, as well as sexual violence.

According to UNHCR spokesperson Karin de Gruijl, the agency helped nearly 1,600 victims of sexual violence between January and October 2014 but fears the real numbers may be much higher.

"We fear that this number of incidents could be significantly higher as insecurity and logistical challenges prevent our protection monitors from going to some areas,"  Karin de Gruijl said while releasing a report on the refugee status in DR Congo.

De Gruijl says the humanitarian situation is "catastrophic" as many people don't have access to basic services while clashes continue between the Luba and Twa communities.

"However, as a result of the lack of access to the areas where survivors live and the fear of many of them to report sexual violence, we understand that many more cases are unreported. Due to a lack of funding and the limited capacity of organizations assisting rape survivors in Katanga, only a limited number of them have access to health care, psychosocial support and legal assistance," de Gruijl said.
 
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DRC has nearly 2.6 million homeless victims and Katanga has the third highest tally for internally displaced after north and south Kivu.

There are only 28 camps in northern Katanga and 19 children have died at one site since March, mainly from diarrhea, anaemia and malaria. Nine women also passed away giving birth there, according to the agency.

UNHCR is calling on the UN peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to reinforce its presence and technical capacity in northern Katanga to better protect the civilian population and prevent further human rights violations. Nearly 2.6 million people are internally displaced in the vast African country.