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A fire in a displaced persons camp in Congo has left dozens of families without shelter

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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A fire at a displaced persons camp in eastern Congo destroyed about 50 makeshift tents Wednesday afternoon, leaving dozens of families without shelter, the United Nations said. A UN spokesman said the fire is believed to have started during cooking in a camp.

The Muganga displaced persons camp near the provincial capital Goma was hit by bomb attacks in early May, killing at least 18 people and wounding 32 others, he said. It was not clear what type of explosives were used in those attacks. Most victims were women and children.

“While I tried to empty the house of my valuables, I could not save my most precious things: my tokens for receiving various humanitarian aid,” Anne Marie Nikuze, 60, a displaced person living in the camp with her children and grandchildren lives told the Associated Press. “What little we had also went up in flames,” she said.

“We escaped the recent bombings and now it is the fire that has hit us.” Furaha Mulema Mariam, 42, mother of four, said. “The only luck is that it happened during the day; if it had been at night, we would all be dead.”

The decades-long conflict in eastern Congo has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with more than a hundred armed groups fighting in the region, most for land and control of mines containing valuable minerals. Some are fighting to protect their communities. Many groups are accused of committing mass murders, rapes and other human rights violations.

The violence has displaced around seven million people, including thousands living in temporary camps like the one attacked last month. Many others are beyond the reach of help.

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