The new Goma office. Photo © F. Bruyas / UN-HABITAT
UN-HABITAT has opened an office in the eastern Congolese border town of Goma as part of a joint United Nations programme to assist people forced to flee during years of conflict in the Lake Kivu district. The office will work to help resolve land disputes.
Working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, the programme is part of the UN Security and Stability Strategy Plan, which this year will focus on establishing mediation mechanisms to address land disputes in North Kivu and in Ituri with the aim of extending to South Kivu as soon as possible.
Land problems are at the heart of much of the violence in the two provinces of North and South Kivu. Immediately after conflict, access to land is the main obstacle to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The fact that the 1973 land law is not widespread, and the fact that a large majority of land transactions or disputes are settled through customary law, has also exacerbated the tensions.
Still camping out in eastern Congo. Photo © F. Bruyas / UN-HABITAT
The immediate objective is to create the conditions for an estimated 40,000 people to come home by establishing housing, land and property mediation mechanisms in North Kivu and Ituri during a first phase, and subsequently in South Kivu, Orientale and Katanga.
The long term objective is to help the Ministry of Land Affairs develop a sustainable policy and legislative framework on land administration and urban spatial development.