The United Nations has condemned the sudden dismantling of a UN camp for displaced people by government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Rein Paulsen, said the closure of the camp in the restive North Kivu province had forced out more than 4,000 vulnerable people.
“I regret the manner in which this dismantling was carried out and I am very concerned by the collective punishment imposed on these vulnerable displaced people,” Paulsen said.
The residents were “chased from their homes and the site was completely razed by the authorities,” he added.
The UN office in the country further said it would seek to make “recommendations” to authorities to “avoid such abrupt (camp) closures” in the future.
According to Berthe Zinga, who coordinates the country’s National Commission of Refugees, humanitarian organizations made attempts to keep the camp open, but the authorities failed to meet the demand.
“We had pleaded… but unfortunately the camp was closed,” said Zinga.
DRC authorities had closed another camp for the displaced in December 2014, after allegedly finding several firearms there. There were some 2,300 people in Camp Kiwanja at the time.
The latest closure takes place despite repeated UN calls on the government to respect “international humanitarian law” in the country.
The world body warned on Monday that 7.5 million people, nine percent of the population, were in need of humanitarian aid including food.
DR Congo has been struggling since President Joseph Kabila’s 2011 re-election, which is said to have been marked with voting irregularities. It has been through two wars since Kabila came to power.
Political tensions are again high in the African country as new elections are due later this year.