Dungu is under attack. This is the subject of the harrowing message that Terre Sans Frontières (TSF) received in the night of Friday, October 31 to Saturday, November 1 2008, when assailants from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group of Ugandan refugees in Upper Uele in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), had just swept down on Dungu, the cradle of Terre Sans Frontières and Avions Sans Frontières (ASF).
There is panic among the population, the people have deserted Dungu, and the Cessna 206 of Avions Sans Frontières has been evacuated to Bunia. Luckily, the neighbourhood where ASF staff are located has not been attacked and the assailants have been pushed back by vigilance groups and the regular army. The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), which has a contingent based in Dungu, felt there should be no intervention. Over the last several weeks, other villages near Dungu, such as Duru and Bangadi, had been attacked and pillaged. The number of victims is limited (unfortunately, some were known by TSF staff), but a hundred or so children were kidnapped by the LRA to turn them into child soldiers and/or sex slaves. At the time this newsletter went to print, the situation was calm in Dungu, even though there is cause for worry since the LRA rebels are still very much present in the region, with some even trying to infiltrate the population. At the end of the year, the media discussed the state of the chaos that reigns in the North Kivu region, where General Laurent Nkunda’s rebel troops have threatened to take over the city of Goma, but they were discrete as to the acts of violence perpetrated against the populations of the Upper Uele.