This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
11 February 2020
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned by the worsening situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Beni Territory where violence has forced more than a hundred thousand civilians from their homes over the past two months.
Attacks by armed groups since December last year on a number of towns and villages that comprise the Watalinga Chiefdom, near the border with Uganda, have displaced women, men and children to the town of Nobili and surrounding areas.
Many were displaced previously and had only just returned to their villages in November last year, after fleeing violence in April. They remain in dire need of assistance.
Tensions in the region have been rising since the launch of a government-led military operation in December against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Civilians, including those displaced in November and December, are among those targeted by armed groups, including the ADF. An estimated 252 civilians are reported to have been killed in Beni Territory since December last year, according to local authorities.
Many people told UNHCR staff that they now live in fear, after witnessing killings, sexual violence and abductions at home and during flight.
The majority of those forced to flee in the latest wave of violence are now being sheltered by local host communities in Nobili town who have welcomed displaced families without hesitation but lack resources to even meet their own needs.
Others took refuge in overcrowded schools and churches around Nobili town. UNHCR and partners are providing them with emergency shelter assistance which is also enabling schools to be returned to their normal purpose.
Thousands more are living in dire conditions across a hundred or so informal settlements, sleeping in huts made of branches. They are exposed to the elements and face serious threats to their safety and protection, including from the lack of privacy.
The vast majority of those displaced are women and children who, along with other internally displaced people (IDPs) remain in urgent need of basic assistance and protection. Key needs include food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene and access to education.
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