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AFRICA NEWS
$2 million to help victims of DR Congo ethnic strike: UN
by Staff Writers
Kinshasa (AFP) Aug 18, 2015


Some $2 million in international funding will go to help victims of the conflict between rival Pygmy and Bantu fighters that has forced thousands from their homes in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said Tuesday.

The money will allow the United Nations and NGOs to provide emergency shelters, food and essential household items to over 60,000 people affected by the crisis, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Fighting broke out about two years ago between a tribe of the Bantu majority, the Luba, and Pygmies from the Batwa group, who consider that they have long been marginalised, exploited and despised.

Raids on settlements and clashes have led to hundreds of people being killed as well as looting and the burning of villages in the southeastern Katanga province.

The money will also pay for schooling, a reconciliation programme and an effort to encourage the two ethnic communities to co-exist peacefully.

Of some 15,000 people who fled an April massacre about 80 percent have returned home, but have done so in a "context of extreme vulnerability" because their homes had been torched and their food stocks destroyed or looted, the UN said last week.

The money is drawn from a fund managed by OCHA and financed by foreign embassies, including France's. Fund-raising continues with a goal of reaching $5 million (4.5 million euros).

The Pygmies are a hunter-gatherer people with a deep lore of nature who have lived for generations mainly in the bush and tropical forests of DR Congo, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon and Gabon.

In DR Congo, their millennial lifestyle is threatened by deforestation and the spread of Bantu farming communities, along with mining of the country's vast mineral resources.

Since 2013 in North Katanga clashes between the two communities have spread and the UN mission in DR Congo, MONUSCO, has reported tens of thousands displaced and dozens of villages razed.


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