80 000 flee bomb­ing around Braz­zav­ille

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BRAZ­ZAV­ILLE: More than 80 000 peo­ple have fled their homes in Pool prov­ince sur­round­ing the Congo Repub­lic’s cap­i­tal since the gov­ern­ment be­gan a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion there last year, ac­cord­ing to the UN and Con­golese gov­ern­ment.

The cam­paign, in­volv­ing oc­ca­sional aerial bom­bard­ments, aims to curb what the gov­ern­ment says is a resur­gent re­bel­lion led by Pas­tor Ntumi, an en­emy of Pres­i­dent De­nis Sas­sou Nguesso from the oil-rich coun­try’s 1997 civil war.

While it has been hard to con­firm death tolls and the im­pact on res­i­dents, any clear ev­i­dence of es­ca­lat­ing vi­o­lence could be dam­ag­ing to Sas­sou Nguesso’s rul­ing party, the Con­golese Party of Labour, ahead of leg­isla­tive elec­tions next month.

The UN is seek­ing around $20 mil­lion (R258m) in emer­gency fund­ing to pro­vide hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance in the prov­ince, af­ter a re­cent visit found wide­spread signs of mal­nu­tri­tion. Many of the dis­placed re­main be­yond the reach of aid work­ers.

“In non-ac­ces­si­ble zones... there is rea­son to fear an even more com­pli­cated sit­u­a­tion as the num­ber of (dis­placed peo­ple) con­tin­ues to in­crease and liv­ing con­di­tions worsen more every day,” said the UN.

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