Tuesday, June 6, 2017 10:24 am
Congo has two days to heed to UN calls to jointly investigate violence in Kasai province, or else it risks having an international human rights inquiry imposed upon it, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Zeid Al-Hussein said on Tuesday.
“The already dire situation in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to deteriorate, spreading to other provinces and across the border with Angola,” Zeid told the UN Human Rights Council.
“Unless I receive appropriate responses from the Government regarding a joint investigation by June 8, I will insist on the creation of an international investigative mechanism for the Kasais.”
NAN reports that UN investigators on May 15 said they discovered dozens of mass graves since the unrest began, including 17 sites found in April in Kasai.
Overall, the UN documented 40 mass grave sites and killings of more than 400 people in Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental provinces since last August.
DRC President Joseph Kabila signed military orders declaring the region a military zone on April 6 with the aim of quelling the violence.
The UN said almost 1.3 million people have fled the region due to the fighting, according to the UN. In early May, 8,000 people were displaced per day.
Al-Hussein in May called the DRC’s government to launch an investigation into reports of rapes and killing by soldiers, threatening that the International Criminal Court would do so if authorities failed to take action.
The UN added that a spike of violence in the Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has now forced over 11,000 refugees to seek safety in Angola.
The UNHCR added that border points and villages inside the Southern African nation have seen a sharp increase in refugee arrivals with over 9,000 arriving so far in April.
The UN said brutal conflict in Congo’s previously peaceful Kasai region has already displaced more than one million civilians within the country since it began in mid-2016.
The UN added that refugees reported fleeing attacks from militia groups, who are targeting police, military officials, and civilians who they believe are supporting or representing the Government.
The situation among children is dire, as many arriving malnourished and sick, suffering from diarrhea, fever and malaria.
The UNHCR said it is concerned for the fate of others suffering from worrying levels of food insecurity and illnesses.
UNHCR, is currently coordinating refugee response with the Government, local authorities and partners on the ground.