In the eastern DRC, violence has once again struck the Kibati camp for displaced. And this time, children bore the brunt of the shooting.
Goma, David Nthengwe, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, told
VOA's Joe De Capua what happened. "In the morning today
(around1am)…there was some indiscriminate shooting by some soldiers. These ended up killing one child, a five year old girl, and wounding another seven year old girl, who is currently battling for her life in the hospital," he says.
It's still unknown why the shooting erupted in Kibati, but one person has been arrested. Armed men are frequent intruders at the camp and Nthengwe says it's very difficult to keep them out. He says, "The main problem is that Kibati camp is in the middle of the front line between the FRDC (national army) and the CNDP rebel group… What we have done in many cases is to speak to…MONUC (UN peacekeeping force) to try and send a message to the CNDP and to send a message to FRDC authorities that they should keep their armed people off the civilian site."
The risk to Kibati residents is why UNHCR has started a voluntary relocation program to camps west of Goma, such as the new and expanding Mugunga III camp. "The situation there can change anytime. If the real fighting, exchange of gunfire, starts between the two forces the first victims will be these displaced civilians," he says.
There are 65,000 people in the Kibati camp. About 2,000 people have been moved so far. However, he says, "What we have noticed today is that there is an increase in the number of persons willing to relocate. We are yet to understand whether this is the result of the shooting that took place…or just general enthusiasm to relocate." The UNHCR operated two convoys Friday from Kibati to Mugunga III and more are expected over the weekend.
Mugunga III is being expanded to accommodate more people. "It has facilities which have been completed for at least five to six thousand persons and work continues on this site. It's a 105-hectare site. We would like to put as many as many people as possible…up to 30,000 displaced civilians," he says.Work on the new camp is slowed because the site consists of hard volcanic rock, making it difficult to dig latrines and bore holes for drinking water.