In Tchad, in Kou Kou and Goz Beida villages, near the border with Sudan, we help 127,000 internally displaced people.
For years, INTERSOS has studied and evaluated the possibility of intervening in the DRC to provide assistance to a population which is affected by armed conflicts. As a result of several assessments and information gathering the organization decided to enter the North Eastern part of the country. INTERSOS’ first commitment started in the area around Doruma (Haut-Uélé district, in the Province Orientale) at the end of 2010 with a protection project funded by UNHCR. The concerned area is directly bordering the South-Sudan where INTERSOS intervenes as humanitarian actor since 2006. The main problem in this region is a consequence of violence (abduction, looting, blackmailing, physical harm…) committed by armed groups or individuals in general, and by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in particular causing repeatedly population movements. The LRA, an exogenous militia since of Ugandan origin, has established its violent and deadly presence in the North East of the country, namely in the bordering area with the Central African Republic (CAR) and the South-Sudan, since the end of 2008. It is estimated that this militia is the cause of more than 5,000 deaths since that year. Other main armed groups or militia in the Oriental province – the province of INTERSOS’ current interventions - are as follows: ALPCU (Armée de libération du peuple congolais uni) in the Aru territory (Ituri district), FRPI (Force de résistance patriotique de l'Ituri) in the Irumu territory (Itrui district), ADF/NALU (Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) in the Irumu Territory (Itrui district), Mai-Mai-Simba in the Mambasa territory (Ituri district), Mai-Mai-Major Luc and Mai-Mai-Toms (Tshopo district).
Within the last four years we have been able to enlarge our commitment in the North Eastern province of the DRC in terms of areas and sectors of intervention. Since February 2013, the organization entered the Southern provincial district of Ituri, and since January 2015 the Western district of Tshopo. Beyond protection (protection monitoring, Sexual Gender Based Violence – SGBV, peaceful co-existence) – INTERSOS is key protection partner for the whole province since 2013 in terms of protection monitoring activities – INTERSOS carries out activities in education in emergencies (rehabilitation/construction of schools, capacity building of educational stakeholders, school reintegration of children of armed violence and returned teachers), in logistics (rehabilitation of bridges), and since 2014 in food security & livelihood (food distribution through commodity vouchers, agricultural activities through working group approach). All commitment aims at providing basic assistance to survivors of violence committed by armed identified or non-identified, indigenous or exogenous groups like the LRA, FRPI, ADF/NALU, Mai-Mai-Simba with specific actions on the protection of civilians, particularly the most vulnerable and fragile (women, children, and elderly).
INTERSOS is currently concentrating its efforts in the Dungu, Faradje, Niangara Territories (Haut-Uele district), in the Bondo and Ango Territories (Bas-Uele district), in all territories of the Ituri district by having a large presence in the crisis area of South Irumu, and finally in the Bajwasende territory (Tshopo district). It is planed within the next two years to start running programme activities even in the North Kivu province which remains besides Katanga province the hot spot of humanitarian action in the DRC.
The programme coordination is done from the main office in Bunia (Ituri district) and through field offices in Ango (Ango territory) and Dungu (Dungu territory).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is among those African countries with a long lasting humanitarian crisis which has turned to become chronic for a while. Since the first massive influx of refugees of the Hutu tribe from neighboring Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide in 1994 the country, namely the Eastern region which is composed of the provinces of Orientale, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Katanga, is prone to a very volatile and changing humanitarian and security context. This is mainly due to the activism of a multitude of indigenous and exogenous armed groups or militia pursuing different national and/or international interests in an extremely resource-rich region. The main and first consequence of this activism is recurrent population movements inside the provinces, between provinces and even toward neighboring countries (CAR, Uganda, South-Sudan).
The main present armed groups in the Oriental province (Province Orientale – PO), being the current area of intervention of INTERSOS in the DRC, are as follows:The LRA, notorious acronym for the 'Lord’s Resistance Army', is led by militia leader Kony and operates mainly in the Haut-and bas-Uele districts . After decades of bloody violence against civilians in northern Uganda, by Christmas of 2008 the LRA moved into the forests of northern DRC to carry out raids against the population. Since then this exogenous militia continues operating in the huge area of the Haut- and Bas-Uele districts by applying kind of guerilla tactics against local population, changing frequently its strategies and causing atrocities of different dimensions and impact. The current situation of the LRA and its leader as well as their number remains very much opaque.
(For further information on this problem see INTERSOS’ documentation drawn within the framework of a cross-border protection project financed by the DG ECHO in 2012 and 2013)
Other main militia groups in the Oriental province are as follows and listed per region: Ituri district: ALPCU (Armée de libération du peuple congolais uni) in the Aru territory, FRPI (Force de résistance patriotique de l'Ituri) in the Irumu territory, ADF/NALU (Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) in the Irumu Territory, Maï-Maï-Simba (ex- Maï-Maï-Morgan) in the Mambasa territory.
Tshopo district:Maï-Maï-Major Luc and Maï-Maï-Toms Among the above mentioned armed actors FRPI and ADF/NALU are representing at present the most dangerous threat to the local population in terms of security and protection. The conflict between the regular armed forces (FARDC) and the FRPI rebels started in August 2013 and that with ADF/NALU militia in the last quarter of 2014. Both militias are affecting the Irumu territory neighboring the North Kivu. We are talking about approximately 200,000 IDPs in the area and an additional influx of 60,000 IDPs from the Beni territory (North Kivu). The situation in the South of the Irumu territory is considered by the humanitarian actors (UNOCHA, UN agencies, INGOs) as humanitarian crisis whit the present main characteristics:Most affected population: IDPs, host communities (since around 87% of the displaced are normally welcome by foster families in the East of the DRC - see HAP 2013 for the DRC, p.20) Most identified gaps: protection, food security (IPC for the DRC – 12th cycle: phase 4/emergency) & livelihood, NFI/shelter, education, WaSH
Other armed groups – armed splinter and/or armed criminal elements - are active in the area and it is very difficult to estimate their composition and movement. It is almost impossible to understand their strategies and their goals as well, unless they all have in common lootings, violence, abduction/kidnapping, blackmailing and indiscriminate killings of local population that keep the North-East of the country in a climate of insecurity and destabilization.
Another big problem in the region is the advent of self-defense groups along the main axes in the North-East of the country. Due to low presence or mostly absence of actors of security (police) and of defense/border control (national armed forces) especially in the rural and remote areas local population is filling the gap by defending themselves against violence and crime. Lots of arms are circulating so it seems to be easy to establish armed local forces. The problem is how to control them. New problems of security are the consequence.
Finally, the North-East is prone to another, long lasting and almost political issue which is the acceptance of the nomadic population in the DRC. The nomadic tribe of the Mbororo lives and migrates in the North-Western part of the Dungu District (Haut-Uele) and in the North-Eastern part of the Ango District (Bas-Uele). They are drovers and cattle dealers and belong to one of the nomadic tribes that are every year migrating the whole sub-Saharan region. There is ongoing tension between the local population and Mbororo. In addition, they are always armed in order to defend their cattle from robbery. The most recent incidents between alleged elements of this nomadic tribe and the local population have been reported from the Doruma area in December 2012.
(For further information on this problem see INTERSOS report on reliefweb.int: http://reliefweb.int/report/central-african-republic/drc-haut-uélé-rising-tensions-between-mbororo-nomads-and-local)
On going intervention
Area of intervention: Oriental Province / the districts of Haut-Uele, Bas-Uele, Ituri and Tshopo
Budget: 850,000 USD
Beneficiaries: IDP, returnees, refugees from the CAR, repatriates
Sustainable reintegration of Congolese repatriates Promotion of peaceful co-existence between different communities Reinforcing the protection against the consequences of armed conflictsReducing the risks of sexual gender based violence and enhance the quality of interventions
To monitor the protection context: identify, document and report protection incidents.Provide orientation and first responses to the victims Train and build up the capacity of local protection actors, authorities and partners in protection, SGBV and peaceful co-existenceSensitize communities, local protection actors and authorities on basic subjects of protection, SGBV and peaceful co-existence
Food security & livelihood:
Donor: Pooled Fund/CHF
Area of intervention: Oriental Province / Ituri district / Irumu territory / axis Komanda-Luna
Budget: 500,000 USD
Beneficiaries: IDPs (food distribution through commodity vouchers), returnees & foster/host families (agricultural activities/livelihood)
Improvement of the food situation and the means of livelihood for a vulnerable population being in an emergency situation and directly affected by an armed conflict
The food security situation of 5.550 IDPs is improved through the distribution of food rations. The means of livelihood for 2.650 households (15.900 vulnerable returnees and members of host families) has been reestablished in order to stabilize their soci-economic situation and contribute to their reintegration.
Distribute food rations to IDPs through commodity vouchersCreate agricultural working groups composed of returnees and members of host familiesDistribute agricultural kits (tools and seeds) to the working groupsTrain and Sensitize the beneficiaries and the local stake holders on the activitiesTrain the main partners on the food distribution and the agricultural activities
Intersos in the country
INTERSOS started its intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), namely in the Doruma area (Haut-Uele district, Oriental province) in November 2010 by focusing on the protection of civilians displaced because of armed conflicts and violence committed by elements of LRA or other armed groups in the North East of the country.The initial project, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), aimed at identifying the villages with the major humanitarian needs and gaps in terms of security and basic services such as potable water, primary health care, and primary education. INTERSOS identified, with the help of other humanitarian actors, the civil society and the beneficiaries themselves, the appropriate means of rapid response and implementation like quick impact projects (QIP).
Since then, the mission evolved as new funding has been acquired with UNICEF (child protection), ECHO (protection & livelihood), Pooled Fund/CHF (education in emergencies, food security & livelihood), WFP (logistics, food security & livelihood), Italian Episcopal Conference – CEI (education in emergencies), new technical sectors of intervention identified (child protection, education, food security & livelihood, logistics) and new areas of intervention targeted (Haut-Uele district, Bas-Uele district, Ituri district, Tshopo district in the Oriental province):
Three education in emergency projects financed by Pooled Fund/CHF (a multi donor funding mechanism in the DRC) were carried out in the area of Doruma (Haut-Uele district) in 2011, along the axis Dungu-Duru-Bitima (Haut-Uele district) in 2012/2013 and in the Banda area (Bas-Uele district) in 2013/2014 in order to improve the educational situation in terms of infrastructure (rehabilitation/construction of facilities) and performance (distribution of equipment/material, training/capacity building and sensitization) for the children affected by armed violence (LRA and other armed perpetrators) as well as of those who are vulnerable. In addition, the project also targeted those teachers who returned, in the aftermath of atrocities they witnessed, to their places of origin and needed to get reintegrated in the school system.
UNHCR funding:The initial protection project funded by UNHCR was followed by further protection activities in the region with UNHCR financing throughout the present year. The main focus was on protection monitoring, Sexual Gender based Violence (SGBV), material assistance, psycho-social support and in 2013 even on HIV/AIDS.
Two protection projects were financed by the European Commission (DG ECHO) in 2012 and 2013 and targeted the local population being affected by armed violence of LRA and other elements along the Sudanese border in the Bas- and Haut-Uele Districts with an emphasis on a cross-border approach since INTERSOS also intervened at that time in the Western Equatoria State of South-Sudan. This project combined monitoring activities with first support to traumatized victims of armed violence through psychosocial and other assistance and later on through their socio-economic reintegration by implementing income generating activities.
Three child protection projects were financed by UNICEF and implemented along the axis Dungu-Duru-Bitima (Hau-Uele district) between 2012 and 2014. The interventions targeted ex-child soldiers of the LRA and other armed groups, non-accompanied children and those being vulnerable within their communities through the provision of mainly psycho-social support, socio-economic or school reintegration, and further material assistance.
INTERSOS implemented in close partnership with WFP a food security pilot project along the axis of Komanda-Luna (Ituri district) in 2014. This axis belongs since August 2013 to the crisis area of South Irumu in the Oriental province. The particularity of this project was to implement for the very first time a food distribution project that is entirely based on commodity vouchers, absorbs local food production and involves local traders in the Oriental province in general and in a conflict affected area in particular. The project succeeded even though the security and protection context turned to become very volatile at the end of the project.
Logistics:INTERSOS showed further commitment to face one of the biggest challenges and constraints in the country besides security which is infrastructure. Especially in the Eastern Region of the DRC, which embraces the Province Orientale, North- and South-Kivu and parts of Katanga, infrastructure is key for the humanitarian actors to access the beneficiaries. Road access is a real issue due to the very poor situation of roads and bridges. In addition, the Province Orientale has a very long and heavy rainy season. Therefore, INTERSOS rehabilitated two bridges in the area between Doruma and the South-Sudanese border. The funding was secured by the World Food Program (WFP).
Within the framework of a key partnership with UNHCR in protection monitoring for the whole Oriental province (since 2013 effective) INTERSOS continues its commitment in the sector of protection in the DRC. 80 locally deployed monitoring officers cover the four main districts (Haut-Uele, Bas-Uele, Ituri, Tshopo) being prone to the violation of basic human rights because of armed violence, inter-communal and inter-ethnical conflicts. The current commitment is completed by specific activities in SGBV and peaceful co-existence.
Food security & livelihood: Since last September, INTERSOS runs a food security project financed by the Pooled Fund/CHF and implemented along the axis Komanda-Luna in the middle of the conflict affected area of South Irumu (Ituri district). Based on the good experiences with a food security pilot project financed by WFP in 2014 (see above), INTERSOS applied the same intervention strategy of the WFP pilot and combined it with a strong livelihood component to target beyond IDPs returnees and host communities too.
From the field
D.R. of CONGO - MISSION IN HAUT AND BAS UELE