UN Refugee Agency ‘Shocked’ by Killings in Eastern DR Congo


Human Wrongs Watch

Expressing shock and sadness over the violent death of numerous Burundian nationals – among them likely refugees and asylum seekers – in Kamanyola town, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations refugee agency called for an investigation into the incident.

Burundian refugees prepare food over an open flame at a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (File) Photo: UNICEF/Seck

According to initial reports more than 30 have been killed and over100 injured, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 16 September 2017 said* in a news release.

“The precise circumstances are not yet clear [but] reports indicate that in the course of a confrontation with Burundian demonstrators, Congolese security forces opened fire on the crowd,” the UN agency added.

The town hosts some 2,005 refugees and asylum seekers from Burundi, most of whom arrived in 2015. There are a total of 43,769 Burundian refugees living in DRC.

The news release also noted that UNHCR and its partners have sent teams to Kamanyola, including medical staff, to treat the injured. (*SOURCE: UN).

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Return of Refugees Fraught with Challenges

 

 

Families who fled militia attacks in Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo arrive at the newly established Lóvua settlement in northern Angola. Photo: UNHCR/Rui Padilha

Despite improvements in the security situation in conflict-affected parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the return to peace continues to be fragile and the return of the displaced populations remains fraught with challenges, the United Nations refugee agency said.**

“Despite the critical situation, some Congolese who had sought refuge in Angola are trying to return to their homes in Kasaï,” Cécile Pouilly, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists at a news briefing in Geneva on8 September 2017.

However, many of those spontaneously returning to their origins saw their homes destroyed and are now forced to live in internal displacement-like conditions.

UNHCR staff saw entire villages burnt down and civilians in a dire situation, as basic services had largely stopped and lawlessness prevailed,” she added, relaying information gathered by the UN agency’s field mission to the area.

In the area near the border town of Kamako, nine out of ten villages had been burnt down in attacks by armed groups or fighting between them and Government forces. In addition, health posts, schools and public buildings were systematically destroyed or pillaged by local armed groups.

Children were the ones worst affected and hundreds have been separated from their families or witnessed their murders. Equally precarious is the situation of the elderly, those needing medical attention and persons with disabilities.

UNHCR’s response in the country is hampered by lack of resources. Of the $102.5 million needed, only about 17 per cent has been received. Lack of access is also causing significant difficulties.

The Kasaï crisis had begun over a year ago, spreading from local tensions to a conflict affecting nine out the 26 provinces of the African nation. Since April 2017, some 33,000 refugees fleeing the conflict had been registered in the country’s Lunda Norte province, according to UNHCR. (**SOURCE: UN).

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Related:

Emergency food distributions launched to assist thousands displaced in DR Congo – UN agency

2017 Human Wrongs Watch


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