Thousands of families are still homeless and are finding it difficult to feed themselves.

They’ve lost virtually everything they depend on to survive. Their boats have been destroyed, they’ve lost their nets. They’ve all had to start again from nothing.

According to the United Nations, at least 890 people were believed to have been killed and 16,000 were displaced over three days in December 2018.

Hundreds of houses, schools and health centres were burned down or otherwise destroyed.

Most of the residents have had to move in with relatives or neighbours. But even that is difficult.

“No pans, no plates, no beakers, no clothes, not even a bucket to wash in. That’s what it’s been like for the last three months,” explains Moseka, who is in her fifties, adding that she sleeps on a mat on the floor.

Her grandchildren were staying with her when her house was burned down. Three of them died. She suffered serious burns. For the time being, she is staying with her son.

The fighting between the Banunu and Batende communities in Mai-Ndombe province was some of the worst in the area for years and highlighted the precarious state of inter-ethnic relations even in the Central African country’s more peaceful regions.

The people in this area live mainly from fishing along the River Congo, but they have lost their fishing boats and equipment.

Farmers have missed the beginning of the farming season, which was in February.

“They’ve lost virtually everything they depend on to survive. Their boats have been destroyed, they’ve lost their nets. They’ve all had to start again from nothing,” said Calvin Mastaki, an agronomist at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the DRC have distributed food to over 15,000 people so far, and call on the authorities to take all measures necessary to significantly reduce tension between communities, protect the population and facilitate access to the region for humanitarian organizations.

While the bloodshed was not directly related to an end-of-year election, a local activist told Reuters in December that tensions between the two ethnic groups had festered because Batende leaders were supporting the ruling coalition while Banunu leaders backed opposition candidates.

The December 30 vote was meant to lead to Congo’s first democratic handover of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. But hope for a new era after 18 years of chaotic rule by President Joseph Kabila has faded in a welter of controversy.

The second-place finisher, Martin Fayulu, has contested the result based on his camp’s tallies, saying that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with Kabila. Tshisekedi and Kabila deny this.

Source : Africanews

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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