GENEVA (Xinhua) --
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Friday it is
“alarmed” over the violence and continued displacement of
civilians from Kasai, a region of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo afflicted by conflict since late 2016.
The estimated number
of displaced people in Kasai now stands at more than 1.3
million, said the UN agency.
the refugee agency’s spokesperson, said at a UN briefing that
“During recent missions to two provinces bordering the main
conflict region, Kwilu and Lualaba, UNHCR’s team met some
extremely vulnerable new arrivals.”
Many of those
fleeing said they had to make their way through dense forest
without food, drinking water and medicine. They said they had
seen people dying on the way, including women and children.
Among the vulnerable
cases were civilians wounded or mutilated, with machete and
gunshot wounds, said Spindler.
“Many new arrivals
show signs of deep trauma after having experienced or witnessed
atrocities, in a situation where no psycho-social support is
available,” he said.
The risk of sexual
abuse and exploitation makes the situation particularly
worrying. Many children and women fled on their own. Some
unaccompanied minors are without proper foster care
UNHCR said it is
closely working with national partner organizations in five
provinces affected by the displacement (Kasai, Kasai Central,
Kwango, Kwilu and Lualaba), with more than 267,000 hot meals
distributed each day.
with limited resources are accommodating the majority of those
displaced and many of those fleeing have expressed worries about
their children having stopped attending school.
The conflict in the
Kasai region, which started in late 2016 between a local
traditional leader—the Kamuina Nsapu—and state authorities,
continues to expand, with other armed groups springing up and
committing severe human rights abuses against civilians, said