Violence in DRC's Kasai taking on "disturbing ethnic dimension": UN report
GENEVA, (Xinhua) -- Violence in DRC's (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Kasai province appears to be taking on an increasing and disturbing ethnic dimension, a report by the UN Human Rights Office said Friday.
The UN Mission in the DRC said it has identified at least 80 mass graves in the Kasai, a diamond-rich area, and it estimates that at least 1.3 million people have been internally displaced in the Kasai province.
At least 40,000 have fled to neighbouring Angola.
"Survivors have spoken of hearing the screams of people being burned alive, of seeing loved ones chased and cut down, of themselves fleeing in terror," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
"Such bloodletting is all the more horrifying because we found indications that people are increasingly being targeted because of their ethnic group."
The High Commissioner called on the DRC government to take all necessary measures "to protect people from all ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kasai area".
The fighting began in August 2016 between the Kamuina Nsapu militia and the government. The UN estimates that at least 500 people have been killed in that period but police and aid organizations put that toll much higher.
The situation in the Kasai region deteriorated significantly during 2016 following a conflict over chieftaincy between the central government of Kinshasa and supporters of the traditional leadership system, the report says.
Information gathered by a team of UN human rights investigators suggests that some of the violations and abuses committed in the area may amount to crimes under international law.
The UN team was able to confirm that between March 12 and June 12, some 251 people were the victims of extrajudicial and targeted killings.