Following a recent shooting incident in Kamanyola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which left 39 people dead and 94 injured, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday urged Kinshasa to ensure protection for refugees and asylum-seekers.
On September 15, Congolese soldiers opened fire on peaceful Burundian protesters, many of whom were refugees, in the eastern part of the country.
The protest began after a small group of Burundians were detained by Congolese authorities, creating fears they were going to be deported to Burundi.
The dead included Burundian men, women and one child. The incident also resulted in the death of one Congolese soldier, with six others wounded.
“This is a devastating tragedy. It should never have happened,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
He welcomed the announcement from Congolese officials to launch an inquiry into the incident and called for it to be detailed.
“We need to establish facts and determine responsibility and make sure that such an incident never happens again.”
Following the incident the UNHCR immediately deployed a team to the area on Saturday where it is working with the medical staff of a partner organisation in the local hospital to provide life-saving medical assistance to the injured.
So far, some 57 people with critical injuries were evacuated to Goma and the nearest city of Bukavu, while another 37 are being treated in Kamanyola.
The UNHCR team on the ground says the situation remains tense with over 2 400 Burundians seeking protection next to the small MONUSCO (the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo) base in Kamanyola and too afraid to return to the locations where they had fled from.
DRC hosts more than 43 700 refugees who have arrived from Burundi since 2015.