3 January 2013 – In response to an increase in ethnic-related incidents and armed groups activities since September, MONUSCO sections in charge of civilian protections (civil affairs, human rights, child protection, UN Police) carried out a mission in Masisi from 26 to 31 December. The aim of the mission was to assess the security and humanitarian situation in the areas.
Since September, Masisi-centre has witnessed an increase in the number of new ethnic-related incidents. Four localities were particularly affected: Buabo, Banyungu, Biiri and Bapfuna. At the heart of this conflict two main groups. On one hand there are various armed groups allied with the Hutus and on the other Hunde ethnic based groups comprising the Mai Mai Nyatura, the APCLS (Alliance patriotique pour un Congo libre et souverain), the FDC (Forces démocratiques Congolaise), the Maï Maï Kikokota and the Maï Maï Rahiya Mutomboki.
The violence reached its peak between 3 and 29 November with attacks against the Shoa, Buabo, Banyungu, Biiri Masisi-centre and Kihuma localities, leaving 40 dead. Minor incidents have since continued to be reported in the region, the most recent being the attack against Buhangana by the Nyatura on 30 December 2012. Both communities however continue to blame each other for the new clashes.
MONUSCO mission’s report is overwhelming: the substantial increase in violence among ethnic groups has caused serious humanitarian crisis. Significant movements of the population have increased the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Kilimani, Kalinga, Lushebere and Bihito camps. Currently, 20 700 IDPs are living in the four camps, and 8000 others have settled in an additional camp in Masisi-centre. In addition a large number of other IDPs are living with host families and in other public sites. All have to deal with the hostility of the local communities who suspect them of having links with the armed groups.
Violence and harsh living conditions are the daily lot of those IDPs. At long last they were able to receive their first food assistance on 30 December when trucks finally arrived after two-week drive on very difficult roads.
MONUSCO took note of the difficult situation facing the local populations in the Masisi territory and pledged to step up its presence with elements of the Nord-Kivu Brigade. Furthermore, local authorities expressed gratitude to MONUSCO, the only structure still present in these isolated areas. It is worth recalling that whenever fleeing attacks, local populations often find refuge around MONUSCO bases where they set up makeshift camps.