For more than a year, fighting between Congolese armed forces and the militia group Ninjas Nsiloulou, led by Frédéric Bintsamou (also known as Pastor Ntumi), has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the Pool department (southeast). Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas, an opposition member and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kinkala, Pool prefecture, announced that out of the 13 districts in the department, six are currently facing chaos, with all villages destroyed and burnt. The violence has led to massive population displacements. According to local NGOs, since April 2016, at least 20,000 people have found refuge in the neighboring departments, while some residents continue to live around the conflict areas. The population is also affected by high rates of malnutrition.
Pool department, located near the capital Brazzaville, has been subjected to a wave of deadly attacks since the reelection of President Denis Sassou Nguesso in April 2016. The government blames former members of the disbanded militia group Ninjas Nsiloulou for carrying out these attacks, while human rights organization also accuse government forces for carrying these attacks.
The Ninjas militia was formed in the early 1990s by Bernard Kolélas, a long-time opposition political leader, and was commanded by Bintsamou. Its fighters participated in numerous wars and insurgencies, including the Congolese civil war in 1997 and the insurgency against government forces in 2002 and 2003. In 2008, Ntoumi announced the disbanding of the Ninjas. However, the insurgency remains active.
Pastor Ntumi is currently held in prison waiting for his trial to take place at a yet-to-be-determined date.
While the country as a whole is relatively safe, certain Western governments advise against nonessential travel to Pool department as well as within 50 km (30 mi) of the Central African Republic border, where separatist groups and criminal organizations are active.
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