Thousands still fleeing Ugandan rebel attacks in eastern DR Congo – UN agency

28 August 2009 – Civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are continuing to suffer at the hands of a notorious Ugandan rebel group, whose attacks have forced at least 125,000 people in Orientale province to flee their homes in the last three weeks alone, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a “staggering” 540,000 Congolese have been uprooted in Orientale province by deadly attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) since last September.

This includes at least 125,000 people known to have been driven out of their villages in the province’s Haut Uele district in the past three weeks, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva today.

Among other atrocities, the LRA is accused of widespread killings, kidnappings of civilians and raping of women. Over the past year, it has reportedly killed some 1,270 people and abducted 655 children in Orientale province, in addition to causing widespread destruction to homes, health centres and schools.

Mr. Mahecic said UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have provided much needed supplies to some 11,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) near Dungu, the capital of Haut Uele district, but insecurity and impassable roads continue to hamper relief efforts.

“Moreover, as the number of IDPs increases, friction over the meagre resources has erupted between the displaced and host families who have been stretched to the limit,” he stated, adding that some of the host families have been hosting the displaced since last September when attacks started in the area.

The attacks by the LRA have also forced an estimated 8,000 Congolese to flee to neighbouring South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

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