Thousands flee fighting in the south of North Kivu

Up to 3,500 civilians have fled an area in the province of North Kivu near the border with South Kivu, in and around the village of Bweremana, following fighting reportedly between newly-integrated combatants of the army.

"Between 2,000 and 3,000 civilians arrived in [the village of] Sake and almost 1,000 have arrived in Goma," said Bernard Leglaive, a senior official in the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Goma is the provincial capital of South Kivu and about 80 km southwest of Bweremana.

The fighting reportedly started on Sunday and spread quickly. "The displaced were arriving until late Wednesday but the fighting reportedly kept going," Leglaive said.

On Friday there was a lull, according to the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), but humanitarian organisations have not yet been able to move in to assess the needs. World Vision says its workers have reached the village of Kiroshe seven kilometres from Bweremana.

According to Leglaive, the fighting is between a Mayi-Mayi militia and former rebels both of which were recently been integrated into the army.

But MONUC information officer Gabriela Litre said that Congolese military officials in North Kivu told her that the fighting is between two groups of Mayi-Mayi militiamen from North Kivu's fourth brigade.

"One group's allegiance is to the 10th military region in South Kivu while the other group wishes to remain with the 8th military region in North Kivu," Litre said.

The conflict zone is on the border between the two provinces.

In June, troops from the two provinces fought each other; dissident forces led by Gen Laurent Nkunda temporarily capturing the North Kivu town of Bukavu.

In September, the chief of staff of ground forces, Sylvain Buki, came to the Kivus from Kinshasa and reconciled the commanders of the two regions and got assurances that they would keep their troops within their respective administrative borders.

The commander of the military region of North Kivu summoned the leaders of the two fighting groups to Goma on Thursday but they did not turn up.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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