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DRC: Thousands displaced as fighting continues

BUNIA, 5 July 2006 (IRIN) - Humanitarian actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo's northeastern district of Ituri are finding it difficult to reach thousands of civilians displaced by recent militia attacks, a United Nations official has said.

The information officer with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Idrissa Conteh, said on Tuesday many of the displaced were still hiding in the bush as fighting continues between the army and militiamen in parts of the district.

However, he said, at least 7,000 displaced people had arrived in Bunia, the main town in the district.

"The displaced are living with other families, while others have sought shelter in churches and schools," Conteh said. "There are an estimated 1,500 in the church and at the Chem College south of Bunia, 700 arrived in the town at night."

They came from southern Bunia areas of Tcheyi, Aveba, Songolo, Tinda and Kombokabo, he said.

"The [UN] World Food Programme is providing food aid while Unicef, the UN children's fund, is providing tarpaulin sheets and emergency kits," Conteh said.

He added that the displaced were resorting to using boxes as shelters. "They are in urgent need of shelter, water and care," he said.

"We are negotiating with other NGOs to provide more aid under the rapid response mechanism." Conteh said.

The latest fighting began on Friday when militias, thought to be members of the Forces nationalistes et intégrationnistes (FNI), took advantage of the country's independence day festivities to attack Tcheyi and Aveba, 70 km and 100km respectively south of Bunia.

Ituri has remained volatile due to continued militia activity. The attacks come as the country gears up for the first democratic elections in 45 years, scheduled for 30 July.

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Theme (s): Conflict, Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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