Monday, November 05, 2007


More than 30 people, including several "peacekeepers," have been wounded during a demonstration by hundreds of civilians displaced by fighting in North Kivu province, according to MONUC, the UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. At least one person died.

IRIN reports about 300 people began demonstrating outside the MONUC base early in the morning.

They had travelled from the nearby village of Jumba to air their grievances about the government's lack of assistance and delays in deliveries of humanitarian aid. When they came across a MONUC patrol some sort of clash ensued.

MONUC spokesman Colonel Pierre Chareyron said numerous other civilians had been hurt in a separate scuffle with police some four kilometres from the MONUC base in Rutshuru. It was in this demonstration, according to MONUC-run Radio Okapi, that a civilian was killed.

"There are 11 wounded and one dead, a 6-year-old child," Dominique Bofondo, the administrator of Rutshuru territory where Kiwanja is located, told Reuters.

"They had been here for three weeks now without any (humanitarian) assistance. They were demanding food," he said.

More than 160,000 Congolese have abandoned their homes in North Kivu since January 2007, when Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda began deploying troops across the province.

Rick Neal and Sayre Nyce from the Washington-based organisation Refugees International (RI) said last July humanitarian organisations are "ignoring the crisis in North Kivu." Quick action had brought immediate relief for some civilians in the province, "but few humanitarian organisations, despite the availability of funding, have stepped forward to help as the crisis deepens and needs grow more acute," they said.

The RI activists also told Afrol News there are a number of humanitarian agencies, such as CARE International, Action Against Hunger, and Catholic Relief Services, that work in other parts of the Congo - and even other parts of North Kivu - but they "have not bothered to respond to the needs of the newly displaced."

Apparently the people are getting tired of waiting for help.

The following is from AFP.

Police kill one, injure others in eastern DR Congo demo

GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) — Police killed one person and wounded at least 11 others Monday when they opened fire on a demonstration by displaced people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said.

"One demonstrator, probably a school pupil, was killed and at least 11 were injured by police called in to break up the march," the official at Rutshuru told AFP, saying that schoolchildren had joined the protestors.

The army was called in to back up the overwhelmed local security forces when several hundred people displaced by regional conflict marched on offices of the UN mission in DRC (MONUC) to demand that UN troops restore peace, according to local authorities.

The demonstrators were from among thousands of displaced people wanting aid and to be able to return to their homes, while younger people among them were calling to be able to go to school like people in Rutshuru, the main town in the region about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital of Nord-Kivu province, Goma.

Christophe Tawite, a resident of Kiwanja, where there are MONUC facilities five kilometres outside central Rutshuru, said the demonstrators had blocked roads, smashed the windscreens of UN vehicles and put a halt to normal business in the region.

The MONUC spokeswoman in Nord-Kivu, Sylvie van den Wildenberg, said that UN peacekeeping troops and local authorities had gone out to talk to the angry mob and ask them to calm down.

"We've learned that people have been hurt in this violent demonstration, but we don't have details on how many or where they have been taken," van den Wildenberg told AFP, while sources close to MONUC said shops had been shut and traffic halted on the Rutshuru-Goma road.

More than 5,000 families have recently been displaced in the region of Jomba by clashes between insurgents loyal to renegade ex-general Laurent Nkunda and local Mai-Mai tribal militia fighters, swelling the numbers of displaced in a volatile province wracked by conflicts.

Since the end of August, the regular army has deployed about 20,000 troops in Nord-Kivu to fight Nkunda's men or persuade them to surrender and demobilise with a chance to join a national military undergoing reforms after successive civil and rebel wars ended in 2003.

Hundreds of thousands of villagers are displaced in Nord-Kivu by fighting not only between the army and Nkunda, who claims to be protecting the minority Congolese Tutsi population, but also involving Mai-Mai forces and Rwandan Hutu rebels from the neighbouring country who are hostile to Nkunda.

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