UN refugee agency alarmed over massdisplacement in Congo conflict

The United Nations (U.N.) Refugee Agency said on Friday it was “greatly alarmed” by clashes between government forc­es and armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that had caused hundreds of thousands to flee.

Speaking to reporters in Ge­neva, UNHCR spokesperson, Matthew Saltmarsh, said the violence had prompted nearly 300,000 people to flee across Rutshuru and Masisi territories of DRC’s.

“Civilians continue to pay the heavy and bloody price of conflict, including women and children who barely escaped the violence and are now sleeping out in the open air in spontaneous or organised sites, exhausted and traumatised,” he said.

Saltmarsh said the UNHCR and its partners were stepping up humanitarian assistance but that difficulties remain in accessing displaced people in some parts of North Kivu because of the violence.

Congo’s government de­clared a state of siege in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri in 2021, in an attempt to stem rampant militia violence in the country’s vast mineral-rich east. But the killings and rebel activities have persisted. —Reuters

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