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UNHCR is assesing the situation

December 22, 2008

Last friday, Ron Redmond, the UNHCR spokesperson, talked about Kiwanja at the Palais de Nations in Geneva.

IDPs should not be intimidated and we oppose any attempt to coerce them to return against their wish“, he rightfully said describing the situation in Kiwanja. He also added :

“The 10,000 IDPs in the camp, in the village of Kiwanja on the outskirts of Rutshuru, are in dire need of assistance – mainly shelter, cooking utensils and food. The makeshift camp has been growing since October outside the UN peacekeepers’ base (MONUC)“.


UNHCR and its partners are planning a needs assessment followed by distribution of food and other humanitarian assistance. Water supply and latrines remain a major concern“.

It´s great that UNHCR is planning to do a needs assesment. However, as readers of this blog will remember, the massacre in Kiwanja took place on November 5th, and IDPs gathered by MONUC headquarters one week later. That means that they have been there for approximately 40 days. After 40 days, UNHCR is not still there but planning a needs assesment.

Everyone working as an humanitarian in Goma knows the poor role UNHCR is playing here in comparison to NGOs (ie Mercy Corps, Solidarités, NRC, MSF), ICRC and other UN agencies such as UNICEF or WFP. Since UNHCR decided to change their whole team many months ago, the mess seems to remain unsolved.

If UNHCR needs 40 days to plan a needs assesment, I hope that the next step in the next 40 days will not be sending the assesment report to Geneva, and having it going from one office to another. Bureaucracy has its own speed, but reality on the field demands another one.

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