GENEVA (16 January 2019) – The UN Human Rights Office said Wednesday that according to allegations from credible sources, at least 890 people were killed between 16 and 18 December in four villages in Yumbi territory, Mai-Ndombe province in the west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in what appear to have been clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities.
Reports suggest that at least 82 people were also injured in the attacks, but the actual number of casualties is expected to be higher. Some 465 houses and buildings were burned down or pillaged, including two primary schools, a health centre, a health post, a market, and the office of the Commission Electoral National Independante (CENI). Most of the population of the affected villages has reportedly been displaced, including an estimated 16,000 people who sought refuge by crossing the Congo River into the Republic of Congo. The UN Human Rights Office has launched an investigation into these alarming reports. National judicial authorities have also initiated an investigation.
“It is crucial that this shocking violence be promptly, thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said. “This is essential to ensure justice for the victims of these horrific attacks, but also to prevent new episodes of intercommunal strife, and to address the anger and feelings of gross injustice that may otherwise lead to repeated cycles of violence between communities.”
The High Commissioner offered the advice and support of the UN Human Rights Office in the conduct of investigations, as well as in efforts to prevent the recurrence of such violence, and to work towards justice and reconciliation.