(AP) — A record 6.9 million people have been displaced by conflict across Congo, the United Nations migration agency said, making it one of the world’s largest displacement and humanitarian crises.
The decades-long conflict has been the primary reason for displacement, the International Organization for Migration said Monday in a report based on data from Congo’s 26 provinces.
At least 80 per cent of the displaced people live in eastern Congo’s provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika, which have long been overrun by dozens of armed groups seeking a share of the region’s gold and other resources. Some groups reportedly have been backed by Congo’s neighbours. Some groups are trying to protect their communities.
“The most recent escalation of the conflict has uprooted more people in less time like rarely seen before,” said IOM’s chief of mission in Congo, Fabien Sambussy.
More than two-thirds of those displaced, nearly 4.8 million people, live with host families, the IOM said, further squeezing already impoverished communities.
Frustration has been growing over the increase in violence. Earlier this month, the Congolese government directed the East African regional force, deployed just last year to help end the fighting, to leave the country by December. The government alleged a “lack of satisfactory results on the ground.”
The UN peacekeeping mission also has faced pressure to withdraw from Congo after more than two decades in the country.