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Congo: UN reports mass displacement in northeast

DR Congo: UN agency reports mass displacement in militia-ridden northeast

Major population displacements in the Ituri district in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have resulted from renewed fighting between the national army and rebel militias, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today.

Ituri is one of most troubled regions of the DRC, where the first elections in over four decades are scheduled for 30 July in a bid to cement the country’s transition to peace from a disastrous six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and attendant hunger and disease.

Ahead of the elections, the national army has been conducting operations against militia hold-outs in Ituri and North and South Kivu provinces that refuse to disarm, with assistance from the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC).

Thousands of people have already fled from the countryside to the province’s main town, Bunia, since early July, WFP’s Christiane Berthiaume said at a press conference at UN headquarters in Geneva, adding that some 7,000 displaced persons were currently living in a camp three kilometres from the town.

She said WFP would distribute supplies to those persons, but warned that, given the intensification of the conflict, the provision of humanitarian aid was becoming increasingly difficult.

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