Description of the disaster
On Sunday 16th December 2018, some villages in the Province of Mai-Nambiar, Democratic Republic of Congo, neighboring the district of Makotimpoko in the Republic of Congo (CongoBrazzaville) were affected by inter-ethnic conflict between the Banunu and the Batende. The fighting has resulted in 400 fatalities and the destruction of property. A large number of the population of the conflict affected areas were forced to cross the river Congo and find refuge in several localities in the Cuvette (Konda and Youmba) and Plateaux (Makotimpoko, Bouemba, Patrick) areas in Congo-Brazzaville.
Families stress that apart from the issues around land ownership, this conflict is directly related to the presidential elections in DRC. The elections that took place on the 30 December have exacerbated the situation with further increases in unrest following the announcement on 10 January that the opposition candidate has provisionally been declared the elected president. The two ethnic groups are in support of different political parties, with the majority of members of the Batende community supporting the FCC coalition while most Banunu nationals were in support of Lamuka, the opposition coalition. Prior to the 2006 and 2011 elections, the clashes between the Banunu and the Batende were also reported.
The vote was supposed to mark DRC’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence but had been marred by accusations of irregularities and risk of widespread unrest.
The DRC Government and its partners, including UN bodies conducted a multi-sectoral assessment from December 23rd to 26th 2018 to assess the situation and needs of the displaced populations. According to this assessment, more than 11,408 people from the DRC (7,425 in Makotimpoko, 3,049 in Bouemba and 934 in Mpouya) have taken refuge with host families or are without shelter. Other more recent numbers from assessments in DRC report more than 78,928 people from the DRC have taken refuge with host families or living in spontaneous settings in Congo Brazzaville. According to media reports there have been 800 fatalities, with this number likely to increase as it is thought many families who were hiding in their homes died when their houses were burned in Boguende communities.