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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

DRC violence drives over 3,300 Congolese into Zambia in month

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, Tuesday expressed concern about growing violence in parts of southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has reportedly driven more than 3,360 refugees into northern Zambia since Aug. 30.

“This is the largest influx of Congolese refugees into Zambia in the past five years,” said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a UN press briefing.

“UNHCR is worried that the insecurity in the DRC may lead to further displacement,” he said, noting that 60 percent of those arriving are children.

The refugees and asylum-seekers, said Mahecic, are fleeing inter-ethnic clashes, as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups.

He said those arriving in Zambia report extreme brutality, with civilians being killed, women raped, property looted and houses set alight.

They are mainly from the DRC provinces of Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika.

Many of those escaping DRC were already displaced internally before they crossed the border.

“With the rainy season approaching, UNHCR warns that the humanitarian needs of those displaced could intensify on both sides of the border.

Many of those arriving in Zambia show signs of malnutrition with malaria, respiratory problems, dysentery and skin infections common among the refugees, who are in urgent need of protection and life-saving support.

The Zambian government, UNHCR and the Zambian Red Cross are distributing hot meals and identifying those with specific needs, as well as providing psycho-social support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

             

 

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