Hundreds of children are among a large group of displaced people who have fled communal violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.
A total of 584 people fleeing the fighting between the Teke and Yaka communities in Kwamouth territory of Mai-Ndombe province arrived in Bandundu over the past week, a journey of 150 miles by river.
Among the arrivals over the past week are 306 children, 138 of them are girls aged 17 years or above, according to the provincial service of humanitarian affairs of Kwilu province.
Several of the arrivals have found refuge in private homes. Others, such as Eveline Mutobo and her three children, have been sleeping in the open air in the Bandundu river port.
“We have nowhere to go,” Eveline Mutobo told HumAngle. “Here in Bandundu, we don’t know anybody. Let the government find solutions to our problems. We have been sleeping outside in the open air on our clothes which we spread on the ground here in Bandundu port. We are Congolese and not strangers. Let the government find a solution to our situation because our children don’t even have clothes to wear as well as what to eat and drink”.
Chanel Muyanga and her three children are from Betani village. They are currently staying in a church in Bandundu. The youngest girl is eight months old, she had nothing to eat the whole day, she said.
“I call on government to help us. We are Congolese and we escaped from the fighting and have nowhere to shelter or feed ourselves. As you see my little child here, she has eaten nothing since morning and has been worrying me a lot,” Chantal says.
The general commissioner in charge of humanitarian affairs in Kwilu has issued a statement inviting all the displaced persons who have not yet been identified and registered to present themselves at the relevant public services so that they can be taken to a feeding site in order to eventually benefit from assistance.
Violence between Teke and Yaka is reported to have begun when a new customary ruler position was created by the Yaka community, who are relatively new settlers in the Mai-Ndombe province, replacing a title previously held by the Teke.
At least 30 people are reported to have been killed in the clashes.
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