Violence forces JRS to stop its activity in Rutshuru, DRC

Fighting between government forces, Mai-Mai rebels and troops loyal to Laurent Nkunda have spread fear and insecurity throughout the country. UN Office for Coordination of Human Affairs estimates 100.000 people have been displaced, among them, many who had been so, in the initial combats of the past years.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), local partner of Entreculturas, has stated as "alarming" the situation in Masisi, Rutshuru (in the province of Kivu North) and Kalehe (in the province of Kivu South). The situation of insecurity has forced the evacuation of several agency personnel, leaving thousands of people without aid. The medicine reserves of various health centres in the area have been looted and will not be able to be replaced since roads are usually blocked by armed groups.

The insecure situation has also forced the JRS to stop its project activities in Rutshuru. The team was about to begin a primary school project in order to help the local communities to meet the needs of the growing number of displaced students (almost 70.000 displaced live in the area of Rutshuru).

Before hostilities started, the nourishment situation of the local and displaced populations was not stable due to unfavourable weather conditions and the continuous looting by armed groups. In April, the growing demands in the area forced the UN World Food Programme to reduce rations for the displaced. Aid has been complicated even more due to the growing attacks against the UN Peacekeeping Forces and the NGO workers.

Last January, the Nkunda forces and the government forces signed a cease fire agreement in Goma proposing the retreat and demobilization of forces. However, in view of recent fighting, the agreement, according to MONUC, (the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo), had been violated at least 200 times with attacks to the civil population. By the end of July, an estimated 857.000 were displaced in the area of Kivu North.

MONUC reminds that the Goma Agreements and the Amani Programme have the only possible framework for a peaceful solution of the conflict. It demands, therefore, that the parties respect the Goma commitments. Alan Doss, MONUC coordinator, has asked for additional means to recover stability in Congo. With 17.000 soldiers, the MONUC is the most important UN peacekeeping force. Its main goal is to cooperate with government forces for the re establishment of State authority in a vast country which has been unstable for many years, bordering Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa and Angola.

Sources: JRS y