3.8 million people are now on the run from military conflict in Congo, almost twice as many as half a year ago, according to the UN.
‘They need immediate protection’, said George Okoth-Obbo of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) firmly.
From the troubled, diamond rich, Kasai region alone, 1.4 million people have fled from their homes, over 30,000 of them to neighbouring Angola.
The fighting broke out a year ago after a local rebel leader in Kasai was killed. This led to a rebellion that has since cost at least 3,000 lives.
‘The conditions in Kasai today are such that we can’t encourage or assist refugees to return home,’ said Okoth-Obbo.
In Tanganyika province, southeast of Congo, there has been fierce fighting between Bantu and ‘Pygmy’people, which has also driven many away from the region. The same is true in Kivu province, which has been troubled by military conflict for years.
Simultaneously with many people fleeing Congo, the country has received approximately 500,000 refugees from neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic. 60,000 refugees have arrived in 2017 alone, according to UNHCR.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today