Four million displaced by DR Congo violence: UN

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The number of people displaced by conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly in the volatile Kasai region, has doubled in the past six months to four million, a United Nations official said Saturday.

George Okoth-Obbo, the number two official at the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), said its priority for Kasai was providing food and clothing for the 1.4 million who have fled their homes in violence that has killed more than 3,000 people.

“Immediate protection” was required, he told AFP on the last day of a three-day visit to the country, in particular for children “who are sleeping in conditions that are difficult to imagine”.

In the southeastern province of Tanganyika, clashes between Bantus and Pygmies have also forced thousands to flee, as has the long-running violence in the Kivu region, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an NGO.

In Kasai, violence erupted last September after the death of a tribal chieftain, known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who rebelled against the authority of President Joseph Kabila’s regime in Kinshasa and its local representatives.

The killing sparked violence that has escalated, including alleged violations of human rights such as extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and the use of child soldiers.

In addition, about 33,000 Congolese have fled Kasai for Angola, with little prospect of being able to return anytime soon.

“The conditions today in Kasai are such that we cannot encourage or promote the return of refugees,” Okoth-Obbo said.

At the same time, the country is also having to cope with the arrival of about 50,000 refugees fleeing fighting in Rwanda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Burundi, he said.

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