Tens of thousands of people uprooted by militia violence in Congo - UN

More than 100,000 people across the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï Central and Kasaï Oriental have fled their homes since August.

FILE: Refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wait on 13 July 2013 at the Busunga border in western Uganda. More than 30,000 refugees from the eastern DRC have crossed the border into western Uganda's Bundibugyo district after rebels from a Ugandan-led rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces, attacked the town of Kamango in the northernmost part of North Kivu province. Picture: AFP

DAKAR – Tens of thousands of people in the central Democratic Republic of Congo have been uprooted in recent months by spiralling violence between a militia group and government security forces, the United Nations said on Monday.

More than 100,000 people across the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï Central and Kasaï Oriental have fled their homes since August due to fighting between government forces and militia group Kamuina Nsapu, according to two UN agencies.

The violence has also disrupted education, shut health centres and halted farming across the three provinces, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

More than 100 people have died in several clashes since August - fuelled by frustrations from the militia group that local leaders are not recognised by the government - and fresh violence erupted in Kasaï Oriental last week, according to OCHA.

“Innocent civilians are paying the highest price for this violence,” Yvon Edoumou of OCHA told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding many more people were at risk of being displaced as the violence shows no signs of abating.

While 150,000 people have been affected, only one in 10 has received financial aid due to a lack of humanitarian funding for the central African country, OCHA said.

The country’s humanitarian response plan for 2016, which appealed for $690 million - was only 60 percent funded, the UN’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) shows.

Delivering aid to those in need is challenging due to the insecurity and tensions between local leaders and the central government, the United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) said.

“We are also concerned about number of children being recruited by the local militia,” said Steven Michel of Unicef. Dozens are estimated to have joined Kamuina Nsapu, OCHA said.

More than a decade after the end of a 1996-2003 regional war in Congo that killed millions of people, the mineral-rich country remains a tinderbox of armed groups and ethnic militias.