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Democratic Republic of Congo refugees flee fresh violence

Democratic Republic of Congo refugees flee fresh violence
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Fresh fighting has forced thousands to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Refugees were heading towards the capital Kinshasa, as Congolese rebels traded fire with government forces around Kibumba and Rugari to the east.

UN soldiers were seen heading in the direction of the clashes, though it is not clear if they were taking part.

One refugee spoke of the chaos as he fled: “There was lots of shooting in Rugari in the bush and we saw a lot of people fleeing as well as soldiers searching for them, and that’s how we ran away.”

Many have taken refuge in Uganda where the World Food Programme reports 30,000 have arrived this year alone.

The UN’s Humanitarian Agency says the fighting has displaced 220,000 and is making aid operations extremely difficult.

Rwanda has also received refugees, but relations with the DRC remain tense. UN experts have accused Kigali of supporting the rebel group M23 leading the US to cut military aid to the nation.

Leaders from Africa’s Great Lakes Region plan to send a ‘neutral force’ to calm the violence. Uganda has said it will host a summit in early August to discuss the ongoing crisis.