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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) eastern provinces.

The UN refugee agency, in a statement, noted the increasing death toll and suffering forcefully displacing many as a result of brutal attacks in the past month.

More than 5.6 million people have been displaced in the DRC, making it the largest population of internally displaced people in African and among the largest worldwide.

In July alone, simultaneous attacks by armed groups in Ituri Province left 11 people dead and 250 homes looted and burnt.

Between February and June, over 800 deaths from firearm attacks and machete raids were recorded in local communities across the province.

More than 20,700 people have been driven from their homes as a result of these attacks, fueling acute food insecurity and shattering the livelihoods of thousands.

Also, in Kivu Province, more than 160,000 were displaced in recent weeks due to heavy fighting between the Congolese Army and the M23 group.

‘Insecurity compounds the existing challenge of intercommunal strife, the lack of infrastructure and an absence of institutions in the region’, the UNHCR statement read.

‘It also fuels intensified cycles of violence, generating further instability and undermining peace and development efforts.

‘Such attacks are increasing the difficulties for UNHCR and partners in providing life-saving assistance to these vulnerable communities.

‘UNHCR’s operation in DRC has received just 19 percent of the U.S. $225 million required to respond to the increasing needs of refugee and displaced people with urgent and life-saving support. This budget was based on the needs at the start of the year’.

The UN agency called on international donors to immediately respond to the funding shortfall required to address the soaring needs of the country’s displaced population.

Source: UNHCR

Photo source: EPA EFE/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

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