Fighting between Congolese armed forces and dissident troops and militias, as well as widespread human rights violations committed by all groups, has caused the displacement of at least 150,000 people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from January to July 2008, mostly in North Kivu province. As a result, at least 1.25 million people were displaced in DRC as of the end of June, two-thirds of them in North Kivu Province. Many more have been displaced since, including at least 100,000 in North Kivu at the end of August. IDPs in North Kivu have been victims of grave human rights abuses committed by combatants from all the factions and by other civilians. In addition, many of them have not received assistance from international agencies, whose access has been blocked by the insecurity. While people displaced in DRC in previous years found refuge with relatives, friends and strangers, more and more are now resorting to camps and spontaneous settlements, as the resident population’s capacity to cope with the influx has declined.
Since the mid-1990s, millions of Congolese have fled their homes to escape fighting between rebel groups and the national government, in a complex conflict which has also involved neighbouring states. Some 5.4 million people are estimated to have died as a result of the conflict, and the accompanying pervasive human rights abuses have included the killing of civilians, widespread sexual violence against women and child recruitment. There has also been widespread looting and burning of IDP possessions, destruction of healthcare facilities and use of civilian facilities for military purposes.
Displacement peaked in 2003, with an estimated 3.4 million people forced from their homes, most of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, and in Ituri District. Despite an agreement signed in Goma between the government and various factions in January 2008, displacement in North Kivu is in September 2008 at its highest level since the official end of the war in 2003. No specific framework or national policy addresses the rights of IDPs or returning IDPs, as provided by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.