Nearly 6,000 people flee brutal attacks on displacement sites in eastern DR Congo

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fleeing inter-ethnic violence in Ituri province

Congolese families shelter in the grounds of a church being used as a temporary site for internally displaced people in Drodro, Ituri.  © UNHCR/John Wessels

Deadly attacks by the armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have forced some 5,800 people to flee multiple displacement sites in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's Ituri Province.  

On 31 May, ADF simultaneously attacked displacement sites and villages near the towns of Boga and Tchabi, killing 57 civilians – including seven children – who were shot and attacked with machetes. Several others were left wounded and 25 people were abducted, while over 70 shelters and stores were set on fire.

In Boga town alone, 31 women, children and men were killed. Bereaved family members told UNHCR partners that many of their relatives were burnt alive in their houses.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is outraged by this latest in a series of atrocities committed by armed groups in eastern DRC. We are calling for urgent scaling up of security in the region to protect the lives of civilians, many of whom have been attacked and forced to flee multiple times, and repeat our appeal to all sides to respect the humanitarian character of displacement sites.

Fearing further attacks, thousands have fled Boga to various nearby locations with virtually nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

While some were still having to sleep in the bush out in the open, most of the displaced have been welcomed by impoverished host families, already struggling with limited resources. Others have sought refuge in overcrowded churches.

Insecurity in the area is also affecting humanitarian work. Health centres were forced to temporarily suspend their activities and evacuate their staff to Bunia, Ituri’s capital city. The office of one of UNHCR’s humanitarian partner organizations was looted, leaving thousands without vital aid.

UNHCR teams are currently on the ground assessing the needs of forcibly displaced people and the host community.

More than five million people have been uprooted by insecurity and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Ituri province alone, 1.7 million people are displaced.

Meanwhile, UNHCR’s financial appeal of US$204.8 million for DRC in 2021 is only 18 per cent funded.

 

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