Protect displaced, HRW tells DRC

2010-09-14 16:11

Kinshasa - Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday urged the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the UN mission there to step up protection for almost two million people displaced by conflict.

"The internally displaced are among the most vulnerable people in the region, and they desperately need greater protection and assistance," Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at HRW said, presenting an 88-page report based on interviews with 146 displaced people.

The New York-based non-governmental organisation also talked to government officials, aid workers and journalists, on Tuesday before releasing its report called "Always on the Run: The Vicious Cycle of Displacement in Eastern DRC," which covers the period from late 2008 to mid-2010.

According to HRW, the number of displaced people reached about 1.8 million last April, with 1.4 million of those in the Nord Kivu and Sud Kivu provinces where many armed groups are active, including Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

HRW estimates that "at least 1.2 million people were forced to flee their homes during three successive military operations that began in January 2009," when the Congolese army (FARDC) attacked the FDLR with support from the UN mission in the country, now called Monusco, which includes 18 000 troops.

Internally displaced

Displaced people have been victims of attacks by almost all the warring factions, including the army, according to HRW, which said that many have been forced to move two or three times, sometimes more.

"Combatants have forced civilians from their homes and lands, looted their properties, and punished them for suspected collaboration with enemy groups. These internally displaced people (IDPs) have fled killings, rape, burning, pillaging and forced labour," the researchers said.

Abandoning everything, "large numbers of civilians first seek refuge in the forest near their villages in the hope of staying close to their fields and property.

"Many face further abuses there, including attacks by armed groups, rape and robbery, or are forced by the lack of shelter and hunger to seek refuge and help elsewhere," the report said.

"Although many say they prefer to survive by cultivating land, their limited or non-existent access to fields means that many rely on humanitarian agencies. But for logistical or security reasons, these agencies are often unable to reach them in the places where they have taken refuge."

Parents desperate to feed their children told HRW that the absence of aid meant they had "no choice but to risk life and limb and return to places of grave danger".

Sufficient resources

The report accused the authorities of urging displaced people to return home before it was safe and HRW urged the Kinshasa government and Monusco to ensure that people could live in security if they regained their land.

HRW documented a case in September 2009 when authorities pressured 60 000 people in camps around Goma, Nord Kivu's chief town, to return home. "Police and bandits looted the camps as they were closing, attacking those who were slow to pack up and leave (...)

"Neither the government nor UN agencies adequately monitored what happened to those 60 000 people."

Simpson stressed that "UN agencies and donors need to provide sufficient resources for emergency humanitarian assistance. The displaced should be encouraged to return home only if it is safe and under voluntary conditions".


Read more on:    hrw  |  monusco  |  drc  |  central africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    ACCIDENT after Jan Smuts Drive
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.