Inside DRC

20 dead in Pygmy/Bantu caterpillar clashes in DR Congo


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At least 16 people have been killed in inter-ethnic clashes in Katanaga province, in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a row over a disputed caterpillar tax.

Caterpillars are a delicacy in western DR Congo in the area around the capital, Kinshasa, which is hundreds of miles from Katanga, where the deadly clashes occurred.

The insects are harvested from trees, smoked and often eaten with sauce.

Caterpillars are an unlikely cause of conflict in the country, particularly in Katanga.

That province is not known for its love of eating caterpillars and people have certainly never killed for them before.

But there is a running feud in the area between Batwa – who are also known as pygmies – and other ethnic groups.

Pygmies are native to the region but they feel they are marginalised, with unequal access to resources and education.

So when they felt that one of their main sources of income was being subject to an unfair tax, the result was violence.

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