About 10,000 refugees fled across the border with Uganda on Thursday following fresh skirmishes between rebels and pro-government fighters in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said about 13,000 people had made for the frontier town of Ishasa over the last 48 hours, escaping hostilities pitting the main rebel army against Mai-Mai militia and exiled Rwandan Hutu fighters.
“UNHCR staff at the south-west Ugandan border town of Ishasha said that since Tuesday afternoon an estimated 13,000 Congolese refugees had crossed the border from the eastern province’s Rutshuru district, including some 10,000 on Thursday,” a statement said.
Yumiko Takashima, the leader of a UNHCR emergency team, said about 1,000 refugees were moved on Thursday to a safer location at Nakivale, some 350km to the east. Several thousand more were expecting to leave yesterday.
The new arrivals told UNHCR team members that they were fleeing fresh fighting in the area around Rutshuru.
“The assailants killed everybody in my village. They took the young boys with them and killed all the rest of the population,” said 25-year-old Daudi, who walked 60km from Kiwanga to the border, without specifying who the assailants were.
Rebels said their positions around Kiwanga were challenged by pro-Kinshasa allies.
“In the face of this threat, we took preventive action,” said Bertrand Bisimwa, spokesman for Tutsi ex-general Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), although Bisimwa underlined that there had been “skirmishes rather than fighting.”
He said the Mai-Mai and the Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda had been halted some 4km north of Kiwanja, which lies some 80km from the regional capital of Goma.
The Mai-Mai spokesman in Nord-Kivu Province, Didier Bitaki, said the CNDP was “trying to advance toward Ishasha.”
Bisimwa later said that Ishasa “is in our hands,” adding that “several days of [CNDP] military police operations” had secured the Kiwanja-Ishasa corridor.
The UN mission in DR Congo, known as MONUC, said on Wednesday that the CNDP had launched new military operations in the area, amounting to a “ceasefire violation.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo will meet with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Nkunda for a second time this weekend.
Obasanjo is due to be joined at talks by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa. A senior Libyan foreign affairs official, Abdel Salam Triki, is also in town.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council was also due to hold a special session yesterday to discuss the conflict.
Ahead of the session, called by western countries and campaigners, Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay urged an end to the “cycle of sexual violence, bloodshed and destruction” in the sprawling central African nation.
“Recent reports suggest an escalation of sexual violence in its most brutal forms — committed by all sides in the conflict, including soldiers belonging to the national army,” Pillay said.
“Thousands upon thousands of women have been raped over the past decade and hardly any of their attackers have been brought to justice,” he said.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against