The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has said that at least 13 civilians died in the fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo national army, FARDC, and rebels of the March 23 (M23) movement in the last one week.
The victims included four children, according to UNOCHA during its weekly press briefing on Thursday, June 23.
The clashes occurred between June 19 and 21, 2022, in several localities in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu province.
The UN agency revealed that the clashes affected thousands of persons.
“Several villages in Rutshuru territory have become virtually empty. As a result, some residents fled towards Uganda,” it said.
At least 17,000 displaced persons have, since March this year, arrived in the Rutshuru centre and localities near Kiwanje.
They are lodged in schools and stadia and hosted by some kind families,
UNOCHA lamented that humanitarian activities are disrupted by the persistence of violence in the region.
In Nyiragongo territory, where violent clashes occurred between the FARDC and M23 by Mag, “the security situation remains volatile despite relative calm”.
Since March this year, UNOCHA has indicated the presence of at least 158,000 displaced persons in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo.
March 23, rebels made up predominantly of Tutsis were defeated by the FARDC in 2013. Still, they took up arms again last year in eastern DR Congo, a region gripped by violence visited upon the local populations by multiple armed groups for over thirty years now.
The resurgence of the M23 has provoked a new crisis between DR Congo and Rwanda, with the Congolese authorities accusing Rwanda of supporting the rebels, an accusation Rwanda denies.
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