Fighting leads to renewed displacement in Katanga province, DRC

"We expect more people to arrive in the coming days. We also fear problems in Dubie as it is a small village with not enough capacity to face this emergency. But those are the ones we can reach and do something. No one knows the situation of the civilians behind the frontline therefore access to them is of the utmost importance." - Severine Courtiol Eguiluz Blanco, MSF Head of Mission, speaking from Lubumbashi.

A new offensive by the Forces Armées de Republique Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) against the MaiMai troops (rebels who resist the current transitional government) has led to renewed displacement of people in the north of Katanga province, DRC.

Since mid-November, when troops of the FARDC moved north of the town of Kilwa chasing MaiMai rebels, hundreds of families have fled. So far 1,700 newly displaced people have arrived in the towns of Dubie and Mutabie, after having walked for days, passing checkpoints and arbitrary questioning by the military. Most of them have already been displaced before.

In 2004, it was the MaiMai who chased them from their homes. Since then, most of them have stayed in the bush deprived of most forms of humanitarian assistance.

Hundreds more families are suspected to have been displaced in the region. Exact figures are not known since MSF has no access to areas close to the frontline because of heavy fighting around the village of Lukona.

Most of the displaced have not been able to take anything with them and there is a rapidly increasing need for shelter, food, blankets and jerry cans as they are without any assistance. Most of them spend the night outside, so a temporary camp needs to be erected.

This additional burden for the host population results in further food shortages and a rapid increase of consultations in the health centres. The main pathologies encountered so far in the displaced population are malaria and diarrhoea.

"We are increasingly concerned about the lack of assistance for these groups who arrive in Dubie without any means whatsover," says Severine Courtiol Eguiluz Blanco, MSF Head of Mission, speaking from Lubumbashi. "We expect more people to arrive in the coming days. We also fear problems in Dubie as it is a small village with not enough capacity to face this emergency. But those are the ones we can reach and do something. No one knows the situation of the civilians behind the frontline therefore access to them is of the utmost importance."

In response to the unfolding situation MSF has sent additional medical and non-medical supplies as well as staff to the region.