BFF-11 DR Congo violence drives 16,000 into Congo-Brazzaville: UN

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DR Congo violence drives 16,000 into Congo-Brazzaville: UN

GENEVA, Jan 4, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Around 16,000 people have fled into the
Democratic Republic of Congo’s neighbour after inter-communal clashes erupted
last month in the southwest of the country, the UN said on Friday.

Violence in Yumbi, in the DRC province of Mai-Ndombe, prompted an exodus
to the neighbouring Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the
UN’s refugee agency said.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic stressed that the violence stemmed from
long-standing tensions between two communities in Yumbi.

It had nothing to do with last Sunday’s elections in the DRC nor a dispute
over delays in the vote count, he said.

“An old rivalry between Banunus and Batende communities led to fresh
inter-communal clashes,” Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

“The reignited dispute is reported to have killed dozens, with around 150
injured arriving in Congo-Brazzaville,” he said.

“This is the largest influx of refugees from the DRC into Congo-
Brazzaville in almost in a decade,” he said.

In 2009, some 130,000 people were forced to seek shelter there due to
ethnic clashes in DRC’s former Equateur province.

The Republic of Congo currently hosts some 60,000 refugees, mainly from
DRC, the Central African Republic and Rwanda. Mahecic said the latest wave
was mostly women and children from the Banunu tribe.

They were continuing to arrive in the districts of Makotipoko and Bouemba,
where government authorities and UN agencies are providing medical treatment
and other aid, he said.

“Those fleeing DRC talk of attacks that left homes burned and people
killed,” he said, pointing to a humanitarian assessment mission to Yumbi
which found more than 450 homes destroyed following clashes.

His comments came as the UN Security Council prepared to hold a closed-
door meeting about Sunday’s elections in the DRC.

The marathon vote-counting process has sparked opposition fears that the
result will be rigged to favour President Joseph Kabila’s preferred
successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.

The communal violence in Yumbi, and insecurity and an ongoing Ebola
epidemic in part of North Kivu on the other side of the country, prompted
authorities to postpone the elections in those areas until March.

BSS/AFP/SSS/1816 hrs