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DRC-CONGO: More than 70,000 displaced by violence in Equateur

NAIROBI, 30 November 2009 (IRIN) - More than 70,000 people have been displaced by inter-communal clashes in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo’s Equateur province, according to the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

About half of the displaced have remained inside DRC, taking temporary shelter in locations such as Kungu, Bokonzi, Bomboma and Bonzene, according to the Belgian branch of MSF, which conducted an assessment mission to the province.

The team found "people who had walked for up to four days to save their lives. At the end of their journey, these people are destitute, they have nothing. They live in the open, or in makeshift shelters, or schools or churches, or with host families. The injured cannot get treatment because it’s too expensive and they fled with nothing," MSF said in a statement.

The rest of the displaced crossed the Ubangui river into neighbouring Republic of Congo (ROC) where many are spread along the shore of the river and can only be reached by pirogue.

These refugees number more than 44,000 according to Samba Ndalla, the field coordinator of Médecins d’Afrique, an NGO that is working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in ROC.

"This is the figure from Sunday [29 November]. But there is another wave of refugees who have arrived in Impfondo zone and have yet to be registered," he said.

"The situation is catastrophic... most people only have shelters to protect themselves against the rain and sun," said Ndalla.

"The needs are enormous. While we have not yet seen an epidemic as such, there has been an increase in cases of malaria, some cases of diarrhoea, respiratory infections and dermatitis among children," he said.

Ndalla said the latest influx was the result of an attack on the DRC village of Buburu on Saturday night.

am-lmm/mw

Theme (s): Conflict, Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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