Fresh Congo rebel violence displaces 13,000: UN
Fresh fighting between rebels in the Republic of Congo and government forces has displaced an estimated 13,000 people, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.
The violence has been concentrated in the country’s southeast, where members of the Ninja Nsiloulou militia have battled the army, according to UNHCR.
“We are afraid some 13,000 displaced people soon may not have enough to eat,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva.
People in the area are “also having trouble getting health care and education because so many state-employed medics and teachers have fled,” he added.
The rebel group, commonly known as the Ninjas, fought two civil wars against the government in the 1990s and were seen as having disbanded after agreeing to a peace deal in 2003, although sporadic clashes have continued.
Spindler said that the uptick in violence in recent weeks has included an attack on a military vehicle in southeast Mindouli district that killed two people.
In October, at least 14 people were killed including children in an attack on a train in Mindouli also blamed on the Ninjas.
The rebels are led by Frederic Bintsamou, a Protestant pastor who is called the Prophet by his admirers.
Bintsamou came out in favour of presidential candidate Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who lost to longtime leader Denis Sassou Nguesso in elections in March, which the opposition say was marked by massive fraud.
Congo has been on edge since a constitutional referendum last October ended a two-term limit on presidential mandates, allowing the 72-year-old head of state to extend his 32 years in power.