For a little over a week now the FDLR has been on the offensive across Uvira territory. The first incident we heard about in Uvira town was an attack on a village called Lumera, about an hour drive north.
The FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda) is a Hutu rebel group made up of remnants of the old Interhamwe that ignited the infamous 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Few of the FDLR are actually genocidaires from ’94, but now, decimated in numbers, lacking resources, and in exile, they ravage the civilian population of the Congo. Since the FARDC (the Congolese military) and the Mai Mai (the Eastern Congolese militia) are preoccupied with shooting each other and not with protecting civilians, the FDLR still control quite a bit of territory in remote areas of North and South Kivu. For more information on why the FDLR is in the Congo, please refer to my esteemed colleague Ned Meerdink’s AP blog and Gerard Prunier’s excellent book, Africa‘s World War.
Since the FDLR has started burning villages again, people in northern Uvira territory have been fleeing their homes. Those who can afford it roll up their mattresses and take a truck to the relative security of Uvira town. However, UNHCR and other NGOs are also concerned with the situation of villages closer to Lumera, where refugees are streaming in and burdening the area’s already-fragile subsistence state. Enter Arche d’Alliance; Arche’s inqueteurs collect information from these villages: refugee counts, security-related incidents, violations of human rights by combatants on both sides, and issues involving food security and public health. The information they collect is published in a report that is made available to the Congolese government and the NGO community in order to facilitate quick cooperative action to help alleviate internal population displacement.
In Part II, we will travel with an Arche team to Lubarika, a village that is on the periphery of the current conflicted area, and therefore inundated with refugees.
Posted By Walter James
Posted Jul 24th, 2009