Civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are once again bearing the brunt of localized violence, amid a sharp uptick in fighting between Government forces and the M23 armed group, the UN refugee agency reported on Wednesday. Fresh fighting since last week in the region has displaced an estimated 135,000 people from the town of Sake – on the northern banks of Lake Kivu – who are moving towards the provincial capital, Goma, about 25 kilometres away, according to UNHCR.

The agency further said that it received reports of bombs falling on civilian areas in Sake and Goma, where an estimated 65,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering, prompting “significant concerns” for their safety. “The escalating use of heavy artillery and shelling in clashes around Goma poses grave threats to civilian and displaced populations, threatening more casualties and the destruction of buildings used as communal shelters,” UNHCR said.

The presence of unexploded ordnance poses a particular threat to children, it added, noting that since the first week of February, at least 15 civilians had been killed and 29 injured around Goma and Sake.

Source: The UN

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