UNHCR: DRC violence drives more than 3,300 to Zambia
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says more than 3,300 Congolese have fled their home country for Zambia in the last month as ethnic tension escalates in theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to UNHCR, more than 3,360 refugees have arrived in northern Zambia since August 30 – the largest influx of Congolese into the country in the past five years. Those arriving in Zambia report of grave human rights violation in clashes between ethnic rivals, security forces and militia groups in parts of southeastern DRC.
Ethnic violence in the DRC
Congolese refugees arriving in Zambia say civilians are being killed in ethnic conflicts while some are getting caught up in clashes between security forces and militia groups. Aside from civilians being killed, they also talk of extreme violence, rape, burglaries and property being set on fire.
Many of those who arrive at Zambia were already internally displaced in the DRC before managing to escape. UNHCR says more than 60 percent of the refugees are children.
“Some 60 percent of those arriving in Zambia are children. Many show signs of malnutrition. Malaria, respiratory problems, dysentery and skin infections are common among the refugees, who are in urgent need of protection and life-saving support,” the organisation reports.
“After they are registered by the Zambian authorities, most are relocated to the Kenani transit centre in Nchelenge district, about 90 kilometres from the border. Some of the new arrivals remain close to the border, waiting for their families to cross.”
UNHCR says an estimated 5,761 Congolese refugees have crossed the border into Zambia this year alone. In total, there are more than 27,338 Congolese refugees in the country – almost half of the DRC’s entire refugee population (60,606 people).
Featured image: By Julien Harneis – http://www.flickr.com/photos/julien_harneis/2991763256/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5395303