Scale of People Fleeing Congo Is ‘Off the Charts,’ Group Says

  • Conflict displaced 997,000 people between January and June
  • UN estimates more than 4 million people displaced in Congo

Congolese refugees

Photographer: Junior D. Kannah/AFP via Getty Images

Almost a million people fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first half of the year, outpacing conflict zones including Syria and Yemen, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said.

Conflict forced about 997,000 people to flee their homes between January and June, the highest number in the world, the Geneva-based non-governmental group, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a report published Wednesday. That figure surpassed the 922,000 displaced in the whole of 2016, it said.

“For the second year running, Congo is the country worst affected by conflict displacement in the world,” said Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Congo director. “It’s a mega-crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts.”

Congo, the world’s largest source of cobalt, has struggled for two decades to defeat dozens of local and foreign militias in its mineral-rich eastern region, while protracted violence in five southern and central provinces known as the Kasai area has killed more than 5,000 people since last year, according to the UN.

More than 1.7 million people fled their homes so far this year because of insecurity, an average of 5,500 a day, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said last month. The total number of people displaced in the central African nation is 4.1 million, he said.

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