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Military operations in DRC’s north-east compounds IDPs crisis

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Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo took part in an operation against rebels in the north-east on Wednesday. The region of Djugu has been under threats from armed groups, where at least 46 people were killed in a single attack last month.

The Congolese army said they were probing the January massacre, saying it was still early and difficult to explain what happened and those responsible for the killings as several groups operate in the area.

Violence in the region has forced about 12, 000 people to flee. Some have sheltered in the Kigonze refugee camp.

“Today we’re here, because there is nowhere to go back, our houses were burnt and we lost all what we had. We didn’t have time to recover anything. We and the children ran away with the clothes we were wearing that day (of the attack to her village) and then we arrived here in Bunia”, said Reheme Rogeline, a displaced woman living in the Kigonze refugee camp.

Indigenes of Djugu now live in refugee camps in Bunia, the capital of the province of Ituri. All locals want is solutions, security and peace.

“If the Congolese government would listen to us, if it is going to listen to us, please let us end with this misery in Ituri so that we can find an opportunity to return home, that’s our prayer, because the children are suffering”, Machozi Glorieuse, Vice President of the Refugee Group in Kigonze said.

Governor of Ituri province says it is a complex situation. Jean Bamanisa said peace in the region is difficult to achieve due to the presence of different armed groups.

”The problem is very complex. All the weapons that were brought into this region when there were foreign forces and that were not ‘mobilized,’ we did not disarm everyone, and there are many weapons circulating”, he said.

Bamanisa added that the proximity with South Sudan, where the situation is unstable, sometimes lead to trafficking of weapons between the groups.

He thinks that a way to find peace was to follow the United Nations’ dialogue process.

According to a report released by the International Organization for Migration this month, armed conflicts, disasters related to natural hazards and epidemics in the DR Congo, have created one of the world’s most complex and long-standing crises.

The report said since the beginning of 2020, the humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated due to violence in some regions. This it added has again fueled the humanitarian crisis in the country this year.

The agency estimates that 19.6 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance during the first half of the year, with 5.2 million people internally displaced. This would make the DRC the country hosting the largest population of internally displaced persons in Africa.