A resurgence in violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could trigger another wave of mass displacement in the country – the UN Refugee Agency warned
Inter-ethnic confrontation and a tussle for land, mineral and timber in the DRC’s Kasai region could spark a mass displacement, said the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) at a press briefing today at the United Nations in Geneva.
“In recent days, UNHCR has received reports of conflict linked with militia trying to replace a traditional community leader with one of its members in the Nteenda village in Kasai Central province”, said UNHCR’s spokesperson Babar Baloch.
He added that “in the past month, more than 24,000 people have fled three separate conflicts related to land disputes, clashes over resources, and confrontation between different ethnic groups, authorities and militias”.
UNHCR is calling for renewed focus on the Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to restore peace and defuse tensions.
In 2017, violence in the Kasai region led to the internal displacement of 1.4 million people within the DRC and some 35,000 refugees seeking safety in neighboring Angola.
“The newly displaced report killings, rape, torture, looting and burning of the homes in the recent weeks. Dozens of people have arrived with injuries. There are many children, women and elderly among the newly displaced”, according to UNHCR’s spokesperson.
UNHCR is currently registering displaced people as well as host community members, whose capacity to help and host the displaced is often limited due to the extreme poverty and high levels of malnutrition in the area. The UN Refugee Agency is helping the survivors of sexual violence and referring them for medical care and psycho-social support.
“In an ongoing relief effort, UNHCR has so far distributed items including plastic sheeting, blankets, soap, cooking kits to more than 4,000 people. Thousands have also received shelter kits and cash assistance to buy food to meet their most urgent needs”, Babar Baloch said.
UNHCR is appealing for the allocation of resources to respond to the needs of displaced Congolese.