UN finds situation in DRC's Kasai region 'dire'
The UN has issued a warning Friday concerning what it calls human suffering on an enormous scale in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In a statement issued Friday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) indicated that a fact-finding mission had been sent last week to the territory of Kamonia, near DRC's border with Angola, for the first time since fighting erupted in the region.
''Our staff saw entire villages burnt down and civilians in a dire situation, as basic services have largely stopped and lawlessness prevails,'' said the statement.
"In the area near the border town of Kamako, nine out of 10 villages were burnt down in attacks by armed groups, or fighting between them and government forces. Local armed groups have systematically destroyed or pillaged health posts, schools and other public buildings. Teachers and nurses have fled or have been killed."
It added that hundreds of children had been separated from their parents or had witnessed their murders.
The UNHCR is calling on the authorities to give humanitarian organizations full access to those in need of protection and assistance.
The central Kasai region is the stronghold of the Kamuina Nsapu militia. Violence between the militia and security forces worsened in August 2016 after government troops killed the group's leader.
The UN estimates that 1.4 million people have been displaced due to the the conflict that now plagues nine of the 26 DRC provinces.