/ 19 November 2009

UN: 100 die in DRC ethnic clashes

At least 100 people have been killed in inter-ethnic clashes in north-western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that caused 25 000 civilians to flee, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

”We think that there have been at least 100 dead,” in last month’s clashes, said Maurizio Giuliano of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Many of the victims drowned while crossing the Oubangui river in an attempt to reach the sanctuary of neighbouring Republic of Congo, he said.

The UN human rights agency put the toll at 60 dead on November 6, but OCHA said on Wednesday the number was far higher.

The Munzaya and Enyele tribes clashed over land and fishing rights in the region around Dongo in north-western Equateur province on October 28 and 29.

OCHA said the clashes sparked an exodus of about 25 000 inhabitants of Dongo and the surrounding area, the vast majority of them heading to Congo.

The first violence between these ethnic groups broke out in March 2009, when almost 200 huts were burned and 1 200 people sought refuge across the border, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. — Sapa-AFP