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UN Fears Severe Humanitarian Disaster in Congo’s Southeastern Province

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The UN refugee agency has noticed a surge in violence in the southeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Believe to create a ” humanitarian disaster of extraordinary proportions” according to the UNHCR.

There has been a sharp increase in violence around the Tanganyika province since late last year. With new armed groups sprouting, sporadic attacks and the usage of firearms.

At a Geneva briefing, the spokesman for the UNHCR Andrej Mahecic ”We are warning today that a humanitarian disaster of extraordinary proportions is about to hit the southeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the province of Tanganyika plunges further into violence, triggering spiraling displacement and human rights abuses.”

Ethnic clashes have already been going on for more than four years, the Luba and Twa pygmies have been fighting due to historical restrictions from hunting lands and basic services. Communal disputes which have resulted in mass displacement and atrocities. Until recently, there has been fierce fighting between the Congolese armed forces and these militia groups.

Partner agencies of the UNHCR have recorded some 800 ”protection incidents” including abductions, rape, and killings in the early weeks of February. Much of the violence is happening in areas inaccessible to aid works.

Illegal taxation and extortion constitute the ”lion’s share” of the abuses carried out by armed security officers of the Congolese military stationed at road blocks.

Militia violence peaked since President Joseph Kabila refused to cede power when his consitutional mandate ran out in 2016. The conflict has contributed to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Congo.

An insurrection which has displaced some 1.5 million people between 2016-17 in central Congo was crushed by the Congolese army but militias have been active along the country’s eastern borders with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

Tanganyika province has a population of nearly 3 million people, 630,000 of them have been displaced due to the fighting. The figure has doubled in just under a year. ”Given the circumstances we are only observing an upward trend in displacement right now, how high it could go is anyone’s guess, clearly it is a major concern for us” says Andrej Mahecic.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR), reports it had to provide relieve and support to some 4.4 million people displaced in Congo for as little as $1 per person. Without the necessary logistically support, you can imagine the situation on the ground.

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

 

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