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Rutshuru, DR Congo: Attacks on Civilians Cause Thousands to Flee
February 6, 2006
Since combat began on January 20 in the territory of Rutshuru in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) tens of thousands of people have fled fighting and violence. Most of them have come from the Kibirizi area, northwest of Rutshuru, where people have been beaten, raped, and robbed. At least 40,000 people have managed to reach Kanyabayonga, Kayna, and Kirumba. Many others still remain in the bush around Kibiridzi and are subject to violence and looting.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontires (MSF) teams are currently providing health care in Kanyabayonga, where 25,000 displaced people have arrived so far.
The displaced people who have managed to make it to Kanyabayonga tell of violence inflicted upon them while in Kibiridzi. People have been raped, tortured, and beaten. In the past six days, MSF doctors have provided medical care for 23 rape victims. The displaced also say that many people were unable to reach Kanyabayonga either due to insecurity on the way, or because they were too weak to keep on walking. These people have spent over two weeks hiding in the bush. MSF has so far been unable to access the remaining people around Kibirizi, though they are most likely to be in desperate need of help. Those who have managed to reach Kanyabayonga have spent one to two days walking, fleeing with only the belongings they could carry.
An MSF team is providing medical care for the displaced population in Kanyabayonga. The city is overcrowded, with two out of three homes hosting displaced families. There is currently less than five liters of water per person per day. In the past week, nearly 150 consultations have been carried out each day, and a total of 34 patients with medical complications have been referred to the MSF-supported hospital in Kayna. Twenty wounded people have been taken care of in Kayna, and 30 in Rutshuru Hospital since the fighting began.
Before the evacuation, MSF doctors in Katwiguru health center carried out an average of 300 consultations a week. An ambulance system was also set up, which transferred an average of 50 severe cases a week to Rutshuru Hospital.