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Violent attacks displace thousands in Nigeria and DR Congo

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-04-19 19:58

The ongoing conflicts in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo have displaced thousands of civilians even as the countries struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected 164,207 and killed 2,061 in Nigeria as of Sunday, and infected 28,956 in DR Congo and killed 745.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 21,000 Congolese, mainly women and children, have been displaced since March 28 by clashes between the Luba and Kuba ethnic groups in Kasai's Bakwakende locality.

In a statement published on its website on April 16, the UN refugee agency said at least 13 people have been killed, many were left injured and 190 houses burned to the ground.

There has been increased tension between the two communities since August 2020, due to land disputes.

The UN agency said in 2020, attacks and counter attacks displaced more than 13,000 families, translating to approximately 40,000 people. Many of them have not been able to return to their homes due to fear of reprisals.

The Kasai region has been recovering from violence in 2017 that displaced 1.4 million people and forced 35,000 refugees to seek safety in Angola.

The UN agency is calling for a renewed focus on restoring peace and defusing tensions in the region to prevent another wave of mass displacement in the country.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it has received 12 percent of the $204.8 million needed for its operations in the DR Congo.

In Nigeria, 65,000 people have fled their homes following a series of attacks by armed groups on Damasak town in north-east Borno state.

The UN agency said eight people were killed during the attacks and dozens injured.

During a recent attack on April 14, assailants looted and burned down private homes, humanitarian agencies'warehouses, a police station, a clinic and a UN High Commissioner for Refugees Protection Desk.

The UN agency said due to insecurity, humanitarian access is increasingly challenging in many parts of Nigeria's Borno State, including for the agency's staff, who were forced to temporarily relocate out of Damasak.

In its daily noon briefing highlights on April 16, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the non-state groups in Nigeria have also been conducting house-to-house searches, reportedly looking for civilians identified as aid workers.

The office said the violent attacks will affect humanitarian assistance and protection to nearly 9,000 internally displaced people and 76,000 people in the host community.

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