LUSAKA, October 3 – Refugee agencies are concerned as the growing violence in south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) results in the largest influx of refugees into Zambia.
More than 3 360 Congolese refugees have fled into northern Zambia over the past month, representing the highest toll in five years.
They report extreme brutality, with civilians being killed, women raped, property looted and houses set alight.
Some 60 percent of those arriving are children, many showing signs of malnutrition.
Now sheltered in the Kenani transit centre about 90 kilometres from the border, refugees and asylum-seekers are escaping inter-ethnic clashes as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups.
Work has begun on a second transit facility to ease overcrowding.
Refugees are mainly from the provinces of Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika.
Malaria, respiratory problems, dysentery and skin infections are common among the refugees, who are in urgent need of protection and life-saving support.
Since the beginning of 2017, about 5 761 Congolese have crossed the border into Zambia. In total, there are more than 27 300 Congolese refugees and asylum seekers in the Southern African country. They are among a population of 60 600 refugees and asylum seekers.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is worried the insecurity in the DRC might lead to further displacement.
“With the rainy season approaching, the humanitarian needs of those displaced could intensify,” a spokesperson lamented.
– CAJ News