GENEVA, Switzerland, March 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM estimates that approximately 75,000 people have been recently displaced in the DRC’s North Kivu Province, following renewed conflict in Kitchanga, a town in the Masisi region, located at 80 km west of the provincial capital, Goma.
Previous estimates put the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the area at approximately 10,000.
Clashes between the army and the Alliance of Patriots for Free and Sovereign Congo, APCLS, militia broke out in the region last week. At least 80 people have been killed and more than 300 homes have been destroyed, while thousands have fled their homes in the town.
The fighting occurred despite a UN-brokered peace deal recently signed by 11 African countries, including the DRC.
By Wednesday, more than 10,000 people gathered outside the MONUSCO base in Kitchanga seeking protection. IOM was made aware of some 4,000 households who have taken refuge with the host families between Sakwe and Kilolirwe.
Photographs taken during an aerial reconnaissance mission carried out by IOM and UNOCHA, with technical assistance from ECHO, show an alarming increase of people fleeing the recent violence and settling in dismal conditions in the Congolese countryside.
IOM estimates that 114 households have fled to Mweso, while others have taken refuge in the nearby areas of Kyahemba and Burungu.
IOM is very concerned about the situation of thousands of civilians now fleeing the combat zones and is urgently seeking access to Kitchanga.