Human Rights Watch on a refugee crisis in the Congo:
Recent combat between rival units of the Congolese army has forcibly displaced more than 180,000 civilians, raising the risk of a new humanitarian disaster in the Congo’s eastern Kivu region, Human Rights Watch warned today. Fighting between loyalist troops and rebel factions at Kanyabayonga in North Kivu, and soldiers’ looting of homes and shops in nearby villages caused residents to flee, many of them into the forest. According to a United Nations humanitarian worker, this flight represented the largest single incident of displacement since the installation of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s transitional coalition government 18 months ago under the Arusha peace accord. “Forcing civilians to flee into the forest has been one of the worst killers in the Congo wars,” said Alison Des Forges, senior Africa adviser to Human Rights Watch. “Fleeing civilians are left without adequate food, water or medical aid.” All international humanitarian agencies have quit the area of immediate combat, leaving most of the displaced with little hope of urgently needed assistance. Many of the displaced are women and children. Some had fled from one place to another four times in the last month, first displaced by earlier fighting between rebel troops and Congolese soldiers in Masisi, south of Kanyabayonga, and in Walikale, to the west.


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