By Juliette Nalwooga
The UN refugee agency is alarmed by the growing death toll among displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
UNHCR says as conflict escalates in eastern DRC, growing death toll and suffering of civilians displaced by brutal attacks is cause for grave concern, calling for new funds to respond to “growing needs” across the country.
The agency’s spokesman, Matthew Saltmarsh, told reporters in Geneva that this month alone, simultaneous attacks by armed groups in Ituri province have left 11 dead and 250 houses looted and burned.
He adds that between February and June this year, UNHCR and its partners recorded more than 800 deaths following gun attacks and machete raids against local communities in Ituri.
According to the UNHCR, at least 715 of the victims had taken refuge in IDP sites or were killed while trying to return home.
More than 20,000 people have been driven from their homes by the raids, which are also fueling acute food insecurity in the eastern province of Ituri, where agricultural development in this fertile region is hampered by long-running inter-communal clashes.