The United Nations warned that violence in northeastern Congo has escalated significantly, with more than 40 civilians killed in three days.
More than 600 people have been killed and 345,000 displaced in Ituri province so far this year, according to Stephane Dujarric, a United Nation’s spokesman.
“We strongly condemn this violence and call on all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law and human rights responsibilities,” Dujarric said Tuesday.
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Conflict has simmered in eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups fight for control of valuable mineral resources and some to protect their communities. Mass killings by rebel groups are frequent, and the violence has triggered an exodus of refugees.
The statement comes on the heels of two attacks in the country’s northeast that left nearly two dozen people dead.
Such attacks often uproot entire communities, and many residents flee to nearby displacement sites which are ill-equipped to receive them, compounding an already dire situation. The United Nation’s response plan for Congo is only 30% funded.
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“The scale and duration of displacement is historic, even for eastern DRC,” Dr. Guyguy Manangama, the head of emergency programs for Doctors Without Borders, also known by the French acronym MSF.
The aid group provides medical care, potable water and supports hygiene programs to prevent diseases in 12 camps for displaced people around Goma, eastern Congo’s main city.
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In a recent report, Doctors Without Borders criticized the roll out of aid in the area, describing it as slow, insufficient, and opaque. The U.N. has said it plans to scale up operations in eastern Congo.
“These intentions urgently need to be translated into a significant, rapid and tangible increase in the aid and protection provided to people in the camps,” the aid group said.