Over 22,000 Congolese flee to Uganda over renewed violence

Renewed ethnic violence in the northeast of Congo last week, has led to over 22,000 people fleeing to neighbouring Uganda, raising the number of arrivals since of the start of the year to 34,000 according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday.

Fighting between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province this month, has left
more than 30 people killed, mirroring clashes between both groups during civil war which ended in 2003.

UNHCR reports shows that the refugees are embarking on a journey of about 10 hours, through the continents seventh largest lake, in canoes and crowded fishing boats. On Sunday, one of such canoe's capsized and four refugees drowned.

UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch during a press briefing in Geneva said, “We have seen in the last weeks that on average around 3,000 people are fleeing [Ituri] per day,” adding that thousands more remained stranded on the Congolese shores of Lake Albert, which marks the border with Uganda.

In December 2016, President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his tenure, sparking unrest and causing 120,000 Congolese to flee into neighbouring countries. There were fears that the action would take the country back to the civil war era.

Earlier in the week , the United Nations said things are bound to get worse in the central African country, stating that the offensive by the Congolese forces against militants from Uganda, might displace an estimated 370,000 people.

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