36 refugees shot dead in DR Congo

Burundian refugees prepare food over an open flame at a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Burundian refugees prepare food over an open flame at a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

At least 37 people were killed in eastern Congo on Friday when Burundian refugees who were protesting their forced return to their crisis-hit country were fired upon by Congolese forces.

Expressing shock and sadness over the violent death of numerous Burundian nationals - among them likely refugees and asylum seekers - in Kamanyola town, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations refugee agency called for an investigation into the incident.

"Congolese defence and security forces then allegedly responded with indiscriminate firing on the protesters".

Lt. John Mwanamboka said the refugees were killed in Kamanyola area in South Kivu province's Walungu territory after they allegedly rioted and the Congolese army made an attempt to control the situation. A [Congolese soldier] was killed in the clash, and it led to the escalation of violence.

Congo-based U.N. communications official Florence Marchal confirmed the deaths and said the Congolese government, the U.N. refugee agency and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo "have deployed teams on site to shed light on everything that happened".

The clashes broke out when refugees were opposed to repatriation to Burundi, Kasereka said.

He says 15 of the victims are women. Thousands of Burundian refugees fled to neighboring countries, including DRC, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

Kamanyola hosts 2,005 refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi, most of whom arrived in 2015.

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