File photograph: Abdoul Aziz Thioye (MONUSCO/Abel Kavangah)
A UN rights group has uncovered more than 50 mass graves in the western province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mai Ndombe.
The director of the UN Joint Human Rights Office, Abdoul Aziz Thioye, said that “more than 50 mass graves, as well as common and individual graves” were unearthed in the town of Yumbi, with the graves yet to be examined by the authorities..
Following a joint fact-finding mission with local authorities, he added that this “suggests that the number (of deaths) is quite high because a communal grave depending on size may contain five, ten bodies” or even “one hundred or four times more.”
The discovery comes after last month, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that 890 people had been killed during three days of inter communal violence in that region. In Yumbi, people had been killed between the 16th December and the 18th December.
There has been long-standing rivalry between the Banunu and Batende ethnic groups, but the recent episode of violence began on the 13th December when the Banunu tribespeople buried a traditional chief on Batende land.
Around 465 houses and buildings, including primary schools, were burned down. The UN Refugee Agency said that 16,000 people have fled from the villages to the Republic of Congo.
Ethnic clashes in this region also took place in 2009, forcing 130,000 people to flee to the Republic of Congo.
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