January 9, 2017 / 6:02 PM / 2 years ago

Tens of thousands of people uprooted by militia violence in central Congo - U.N.

DAKAR, Jan 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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 U.N. agencies.

The violence has also disrupted education, shut health centres and halted farming across the three provinces, the U.N. 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 U.N.’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. (Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Astrid Zweynert; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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