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DRC fires leave thousands homeless

29 August 2015, 08:03

Kinshasa - Widespread bush fires fanned by strong winds have destroyed hundreds of homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving thousands of people without shelter, UN and local officials said Friday.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it planned to launch an appeal to bring aid to the stricken villagers.

The blazes ripped through villages in the mineral-rich eastern province of Maniema over the past few days, officials said.

"We have recorded 10 000 affected households in southern Maniema," with tens of thousands left homeless, said Alexis Asani Ndalimbuzi, director of natural resources in the provincial town of Kasongo.

No deaths or injuries have been reported.

Also Read: Monusco child sex assaults highlighted

Villagers often burn brush for hunting or farming but the fires can spread out of control and end up setting homes - which are close to each other and built out of flammable materials.

Idrissa Conteh, head of the OCHA office in provincial capital Kindu, told AFP that the fires had also affected shelters for people displaced by conflict - leaving them homeless for a second time.

In conflict zones, where land disputes abound, "arson is used as a weapon of war", he said.

Currently, no aid was being provided to those left homeless by the blazes.

"We are going to alert the prime minister and the local government," said Conteh. "We will send out an SOS so we can provide humanitarian aid."



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