DRC: Patterns of violence and displacement
In the areas where MSF is working we have seen a total of 92,000 displaced who have fled their villages within the past year. They have sought refuge in Mitwaba, Mukubu, Dubie, Upemba, Kabangu, Lukuna, Kabalo and Pweto. In the last two years violence has provoked several waves of displacement in the Mitwaba - Upemba - Manono triangle.
Over December/January, another 10,000 people made their way towards Dubie while the displaced in Mazombwe were forced to flee after an attack by Mai-Mai. Of the 3,000 original inhabitants, only 1,000 appear to have returned.
Another 15,000 persons fled to the shores of Lake Upembe adding to an existing 20,000 displaced. And a further 6,500 persons to Sampwe and Mitwaba.
This massive movement of 92,000 persons during a period of just over a year has to be added to pre-existing levels of displacement in these and adjacent zones in central and northern Katanga - much of which remains unknown.II.1 Repeated Displacement - DRC
For most of the people across central and northern Katanga, such upheavals and displacement have been a constant feature of their lives ever since the war started in 1998, and have continued to this day with the conflict between the Mai-Mai and Congolese army. Thousands of civilians have frequently been obliged to flee to their fields, following waves of abuse and violence. They have lived in their fields away from their villages for anything from a few days to several months - even up to one year - only then managing to return home.
Some had perpetually been going back and forth from their village to their fields and back again - for nights, for weeks or longer. Still others had eventually decamped from their fields to the bush unwilling and/or unable to return to their villages; many had lived a life of continually fleeing from one bush area to another continually in search of safer refuge during one or several months.
II.2 Family separation
A number of IDPs told MSF of separation from family members en route, although where possible families tried to stay together carrying the ill, the elderly and the handicapped on bicycles.
II.3 Family Loss
Just as worrying are the high levels of mortality reported for the last few years. For the vast majority of the people in central and northern Katanga, only regular access to their fields allowed them to eke out a precarious existence.
In the bush, they became dependent on scavenging wild foods and reported high levels of malnutrition and death among young children under five years old. This is borne out by the low numbers of under-fives in the camps of Dubie, once families had sought protection in Government-held zones.