Congolese Internally Displaced People forced to return their villages

A woman who fled the village of Banda in Kasai Province with her child A woman who fled the village of Banda in Kasai Province with her child John Wessels/UNHCR

21 July 2017
Since May 2013, the number of civilians forced to move from their home has constantly increased in the Congolese province of Tanganyika.

Two rival militias, the Luba (a Bantu people) and the Twa (pygmy indigenous tribe ), are fighting each other, causing a terrible humanitarian crisis and generating thousands of Internally Displaced People. In March, the UN’s emergency aid coordination body (OCHA) announced that 3.7 million people are currently displaced in Congo. They are located mainly in the Kasai region, the Kivus, Kalemie territory.

Despite the efforts carried out by the UN Mission in Congo and the national armed forces, attacks still continue and the IDP increased from 370.000 in December 2016 to 543.000 in March 2017. According to OCHA, only 27 percentage of these people have received any form of help from the UN or NGOs.

The Twa people, representing only the one percentage of the whole population, have long faced discriminations and have been treated as slaves by the numerous Bantu tribes. In the last two decades, the Twa population started using violence against its oppressors. They were later organized into paramilitary groups when Laurent-Désiré Kabila came into power in 1997, using them to fight the Katanga, a Luba secessionist movement, who then became hostile to the Twa militias.

The Tanganyika’s local authorities ensure that the province is now secure and peace has been restored. Consequently, they created a programme to bring IDP back to their villages. The humanitarian organizations are quite sceptical, as civilians seem to have been forced to return home. Moreover, it is almost impossible for IDP to have access to health care, education and they are threatened by attacks, violence, family loss or separation.


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