Thousands of homes burned in new atrocities in Eastern Congo, villagers tell Oxfam
Agency calls for urgent international action to help civilians as military operations spread.
Atrocities are being committed against villagers in remote areas of Eastern
Congo, where fighting between the Congolese army and the FDLR rebel group
continues, said international agency Oxfam today.
On a recent field visit to Lubero territory in North Kivu, where Oxfam has increased its emergency operations due to the renewed fighting, villagers reported that several
thousand houses have been deliberately burned since military operations
began in January. In the past week alone, at least 250 more homes were set
Marcel Stoessel, Head of Oxfam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who
just came back from the conflict zone, said: “There is nowhere that is
safe in the area I visited. Villagers are being forced to flee, some for
the fifth or sixth time, losing family members on the way. Women are being
raped and abused. People have been looted of the few possessions they
owned, and have had their houses burned to the ground – all of this is
happening as we speak, but the world is looking away.
“The stories I heard are heartbreaking. A woman told me how she witnessed a
brutal gang rape of a neighbor by three armed men. She thinks the victim
must have died afterwards. She ran away with her children, but her husband
ran in another direction. She does not know where he is.”
At least 250,000 people have been forced to leave their homes since
January. Oxfam is alarmed about the lack of protection of civilians in
their home villages, but also about their safety in the towns they fled to,
where armed men are also carrying out serious abuses.
There are not enough UN peacekeepers patrolling the areas affected by the
new violence, leaving civilians feeling scared and vulnerable. While there
are around 17,500 MONUC peacekeepers in the country, the force has very
little visible presence in the areas to which people have fled.
“Communities tell us that they would like to see more peacekeepers
patrolling the areas on foot, so that they feel safer”, said Stoessel.
Oxfam called on MONUC to ensure that its resources are deployed in areas
where they can best protect people at risk.
Oxfam this month significantly scaled up its life-saving emergency response
by providing clean water, sanitation, and carrying out crucial hygiene
promotion activities. Up to 150,000 additional people will benefit from
With the military operations against the FDLR now expanding to South Kivu,
Oxfam is also concerned for civilians there, with initial reports of
thousands of people already fleeing in anticipation of increased violence
and attacks. Oxfam has opened a new rapid response office in Bukavu, South
Kivu, to be prepared for possible humanitarian fallout.
“What we have seen in North Kivu sets a terrible precedent for what may
happen in South Kivu”, said Stoessel. “Oxfam calls on all parties to the
conflict, including the Government, to respect the life, dignity and
property of civilians.”
Photo of the wk: Young Ahmed holds the keys to 1 of 48 new wash blocks, Zaatari camp #Jordan http://t.co/qOs5BOPh63 #Syria #refugees1 day 57 min ago
1000s homeless again, searching for safety as violence erupts again in eastern #DRC http://t.co/C3cLwXNit3 $1bn WorldBank aid pledge1 day 2 hours ago
UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference: Good, but needs to go further http://t.co/Hm54O1EsXT #GPDRR13 #drr @UNDP @unisdr @odi_development1 day 3 hours ago
European #taxhavens are 2/3 of the $150 billion tax loss problem http://t.co/jax7i3jVsd #G8 #taxdodging #transparency1 day 5 hours ago
Thx @Food_Tank! Proud 2b in 40 Orgs Shaking Up the Food System list @IFADnews @millenniuminst @OneAcreFund @ONECampaign @rocunited @FAOnews1 day 7 hours ago
RT @oxfamgb: Good news of £30m extra funding from @DFID_UK for #Syria. Still need more aid from others & big push for a peace. http://t.co/…1 day 7 hours ago
US pushes Europe to amend arms #embargo on Syrian rebels http://t.co/B8KYe8VNQn #SyriaCrisis @StateDept @WilliamJHague @eu_eeas @OxfamEU1 day 7 hours ago
+80,000 ppl have been killed & several million displaced since the #SyriaCrisis began; #EU must extend arms embargo http://t.co/JlpzH9egf71 day 8 hours ago
RT @Katie_Nguyen1: Another arresting headline from @katymigiro 'Chips for sex: Oxfam explores the lives of #Kenya’s hungry millions' http:…1 day 8 hours ago
RT @liviafirth: 1 empowered woman can spark a positive change for her whole community @Oxfam @thecircle_oxfam #SparksthatFly @eco_age1 day 9 hours ago
RT @Karl_Schembri: #Syria children nxt to newly installed water tap outside 1 of 48 new wash blocks by @Oxfam in #Zaatari Camp, #Jordan htt…1 day 9 hours ago
The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions, but first it needs signatures. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/4YUsIawus71 day 11 hours ago
#EU foreign ministers must bite the bullet & extend the arms #embargo on #Syria http://t.co/rL80yARiSt #SyriaCrisis #ArmsTreaty1 day 17 hours ago
RT @OxfamIreland: Ireland pledges €2.5 million in aid to Mali to contribute to reconstruction http://t.co/wvUzsRsHoD via @IrishTimes #Mal…2 days 1 hour ago
As @UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference ends, worth checking #GPDRR13 for great tweets from @unisdr @UNOCHA @Federation et al2 days 1 hour ago