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The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Ituri province increases

August 17, 2019


The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has lamented this Saturday the increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, in Ituri province, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, two months after the violence forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

More than 145,000 newly displaced people sought security and assistance in camps for internally displaced persons in Ituri at the end of June. However, it is estimated that another 215,000 people would have fled to neighboring regions.

UNHCR has pointed out that difficulties in accessing some points complicates the verification of the actual number of displaced persons, a figure that has continued to increase since then. In addition the constant violence
among militia groups makes many fear returning to their homes.

Some of the displaced people have been welcomed by other families, while others have been forced to sleep outdoors. For example, Drodro, a relatively small city, has tripled its population in just a few weeks, turning its local schools and churches into huge and precarious shelters, as detailed by UNHCR.

On the other hand, many of the people who have tried to return to their homes have been killed by armed militias, as a warning signal to prevent others from deciding to return. That is why at this time, the most urgent needs are shelter, water, sanitation, medical care and food.

In addition, the vulnerability of women and girls who, given the circumstances, are at high risk of suffering sexual and gender-based violence has increased. In turn, poor hygiene conditions caused by the lack of clean water and latrines are increasing the risk of disease spread.

The UN Refugee Agency is building emergency collective hangars for those who sleep outdoors and individual shelters for the most vulnerable families.

Still, UNHCR has reported that it is very necessary to build
new shelters so that people can leave schools before the start of the new school period in early September.

Finally, he has criticized that financing for this humanitarian crisis remains extremely scarce. In this situation, UNHCR has called on the international community to make new contributions that allow humanitarian organizations to provide basic life-saving assistance. So far this year, this agency has barely received 32 percent of the 150 million dollars needed for its operations.

Civil society organizations in Ituri denounced on June 18 that at least 240 people had died in the wave of violence that has been recorded in the Djugu area, after authorities reported the discovery of more than 160 bodies.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 300,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the inter-ethnic clashes this month in Ituri.

The rebound in violence in Ituri, the scene of ethnic tensions for decades, has brought to mind the conflict between the hema and the lendu between 1999 and 2007 over grazing rights and political representation, which resulted in about 50,000 deaths.

Although there has been a decade of tranquility since then, clashes between the two communities resurfaced in late 2017 and early 2018, with around 300 dead before the return to calm.