DRC: Thousands of people flee clashes in Nyiragongo and Rutshuru in the east of the country (OCHA)

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According to the UN agency, the fighting in Kikumba, located 25 km north of Goma, has forced around 10,000 people to flee to Rugari in Rutshuru Territory and Kibati, around 8 km from Goma.

“According to the protection partners, around 26,000 people have been displaced since the resumption of violence on May 22 in Rutshuru”, detailed OCHA in its latest situation report on eastern DRC.

The remaining 24,000 are spread across villages in the Rwanguba health zone, where they live in makeshift sites, including churches and schools, and are in dire need of food and non-food items.

Other civilians have decided to cross Congolese international borders. More than 1,500 people have fled to Uganda, joining around 19,000 others who were already there when the fighting broke out last March.

Humanitarians review a contingency/emergency preparedness plan

This new confrontation is the fifth between the Congolese army and “presumed M23 fighters” since March 2022 in Rutshuru territory.

Previous clashes had caused the displacement of some 65,000 people. They have not been able to return to their homes following the recurrence of clashes and remain confined either to schools, churches and other collective centers, or to host families in the Rutshuru Health Zone.

In the region, basic socio-economic activities have been paralyzed around Jomba since the start of the fighting. “According to humanitarian sources, at least 19,000 people have been deprived of life-saving aid following the suspension of humanitarian activities in localities near Bunagana, where fighting was reported on 23 May,” OCHA said.

However, humanitarian activities continue in some non-combat areas of Rwanguba. Humanitarian actors fear the spread of clashes to these areas with the continuation of fighting.

Faced with these latest developments, the humanitarian community gathered in Goma earlier this week to discuss the contingency/emergency preparedness plan including these latest developments. OCHA is planning a mission to Rutshuru by the end of the week to support coordination efforts on the ground.

A humanitarian response was already underway in the sectors of food security, health, protection, shelter, essential household items, nutrition and water, hygiene and sanitation. But according to the UN, this aid may not be sufficient because of the new needs that these new clashes could create. “Continued fighting also risks affecting ongoing humanitarian interventions, and leading to the suspension of aid,” warned OCHA.

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