U.N. airlifts aid into Angola for DRC asylum seekers

LUANDA (Reuters) - The United Nations' refugee agency on Sunday airlifted its first batch of relief supplies to the more than 11,000 people on Angola's northern border fleeing the latest violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The U.N. said that more than a million civilians have been displaced inside the DRC since a brutal conflict broke out in the Kasai region in mid-2016, with about 25,000 asylum seekers crossing into Angola.

"Arrivals are in urgent need of life-saving assistance, including food, water, shelter and medical services," the U.N. Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) southern Africa representative, Sharon Cooper, said in a statement. 

A cargo aircraft carrying mosquito nets, blankets and sanitary items flew in from Dubai and landed near Dundo, about 100km from the Angola-DRC border, where the UNHCR has set up makeshift centres sheltering refugees, the agency said.

The U.N. said it would send more relief items to Angola in the coming days. 

The Kamuina Nsapu insurrection that erupted in the DRC's Kasai-Central province last August has become the most serious threat to President Joseph Kabila's 16-year rule, with lawlessness across Africa's second-largest country inflamed by Kabila's decision to remain in power after his mandate ran out in December.

A U.N. team of investigators said this month that it had uncovered 40 mass grave sites and killings of more than 400 people in Kasai.

(Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by David Goodman)

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