Refugees International conducting assessment mission in Ituri

Refugees International (RI) is conducting a humanitarian assessment mission in the Ituri District of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the NGO announced on Thursday. The mission is focusing on assessing the overall situation of the displaced, with particular attention to the needs of vulnerable women and children.

It will evaluate whether recent investigations by the UN Mission in the DRC into reports of cannibalism and rape by parties to the conflict have served to reduce such abuses.

The mission will visit the towns of Beni and Bunia, and then travel into the countryside to the extent that security conditions permit. It will also visit regions of neighbouring Uganda where recent refugees from Ituri have sought asylum.

The mission is due to conclude on 28 February.

As RI reported in the first report of their Forgotten People series, Ituri is experiencing large-scale displacement as the result of ethnic conflict, often fuelled by financial interests in natural resources, that is a product of the wider civil war in the DRC. The UN estimates that 500,000 people are displaced in this region alone, and insecurity is preventing humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need.

For background information on the Ituri conflict, go to: The IRIN Web Special on Ituri