Source: 200,000 dis­placed by eth­nic clashes in DR Congo

Iran Daily - - International -

About 200,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed in eth­nic clashes since mid-de­cem­ber in the north­east­ern Ituri Prov­ince of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, a hu­man­i­tar­ian source told AFP Tues­day.

An­other hu­man­i­tar­ian source said “on an av­er­age 800 peo­ple are ar­riv­ing daily” in Bu­nia, the main city in the re­gion, due to fight­ing be­tween the Hema and Lendu com­mu­ni­ties.

Hema herders and Lendu farm­ers have been locked in vi­o­lence in Ituri for decades, with tens of thou­sands killed from 1999 to 2003.

“Since mid-de­cem­ber about 200,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed in Ituri due to the vi­o­lence,” the first hu­man­i­tar­ian source said. The UN in Kam­pala mean­while said over 22,000 refugees had fled to Uganda re­cently to es­cape vi­o­lence which has left sev­eral dead and vil­lages torched. At least four refugees drowned while cross­ing the wa­ters of Lake Al­bert be­tween the two na­tions, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said.

“Last week, over 22,000 Con­golese crossed Lake Al­bert to Uganda in three days, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple from the DRC ar­riv­ing in the coun­try to about 34,000 since the be­gin­ning of the year,” UNHCR said Tues­day.

“The refugees use small ca­noes or over­crowded and rick­ety fish­ing boats, of­ten car­ry­ing more than 250 peo­ple and tak­ing up to 10 hours to cross.”

“Refugees cross­ing to Uganda talk of grow­ing at­tacks against civil­ian pop­u­la­tions, as well as killings and de­struc­tion of pri­vate prop­erty,” the UN state­ment read.

“UNHCR staff also re­ceived many re­ports of civil­ians be­ing hacked to death and killed with ar­rows.”

Ituri is part of DRC’S deeply trou­bled east­ern re­gion that in­cludes the restive North and South Kivu prov­inces, where mili­tias hold sway over huge ar­eas.

The lat­est vi­o­lence comes amid un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila, who has ruled since 2001.

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