Women,children at risk in conflict riddled beni region of DR Congo

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Members of the Mbuti indigenous community stand beside their shelters at a makeshift site for internally displaced persons in Beni territory, North Kivu./UNHCR

The United Nations said on Friday that attacks on communities in an Ebola outbreak hotspot in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have sparked a humanitarian crisis and threatened aid distribution.This coming amid reports of serious civil unrest.

Members of the Mbuti indigenous community stand beside their shelters at a makeshift site for internally displaced persons in Beni territory, North Kivu./UNHCR

Tensions in eastern Beni territory in DRC’s North Kivu province have been rising since the launch of a Government-led security operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on 30 October, UN refugee agency-UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley told the media in Geneva.

According to UNHCR, Beni town is home to around 500,000 people. “We understand there’s at least 275,000 people in the surrounding areas who’ve already been displaced, and conditions are quite dire and deteriorating,” Mr. Yaxley said.

Armed groups have been targeting civilians and displaced populations in the region, killing scores of people and leaving others “caught in the crossfire”, he added.

Children need immediate support, he continued, as many “have lost their parents or have arrived unaccompanied.

Forced recruitment by armed groups is a real threat to the safety of children and women also face widespread sexual violence, abuse and risk of exploitation.”

The development comes as people in eastern DRC continue to be targeted by a multitude of armed groups, with at least 100 people reportedly killed in violent attacks in the Beni region and thousands displaced since 2 November, UNHCR said.

In a statement on Friday, Hervé Verhoosel, spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme-WFP said the agency had temporarily suspended aid distribution “because both our staff and more importantly the staff of the partners who are working with us on the ground  the security was not guaranteed anymore, and the access was very difficult”.

 

 

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