Kinshasa — MORE than 8 000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring Burundi and Tanzania over the past week following operations by the military to rid eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of militia groups.
The incursion by the Armed Forces of the (FARDC) to eliminate the Mai Mai Yakutumba rebel movement has uprooted 7 000 civilians that have fled to Burundi during the period.
They are crossing Lake Tanganyika on small fishing boats into the provinces of Makamba and Rumonge. A further 1 200 Congolese have fled to Tanzania.
The militia is wreaking havoc particularly in the South Kivu province of the former Zaire. South Kivu has been the centre of the Second Congo War (1998-2003).
Failure by President Joseph Kabila to cede power has agitated the militants. The nongovernmental organisation, ACT Alliance, said the numbers of refugees fleeing were an understatement of the crisis.
"It is believed that many more are displaced inside South Kivu in difficult conditions without shelter or food," the organisation stated.
It therefore estimated that over 9 000 Congolse crossed to Burundi so far.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), overall, 15 000 refugees have fled DRC.
"The worst-case scenario might increase up to 50 000 to 60 000," ACT Alliance warned. - CAJ News