The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has deteriorated dramatically over the past year due to a massive escalation of conflict and widespread insecurity. Extreme violence has spread to areas typically considered stable, such as the provinces of Kasai and Tanganyika. The situation has been recently compounded by deadly floods and an outbreak of Cholera, among multiple other health emergencies, while the IOM, the UN Migration Agency humanitarian appeal, released at the end of last year, remains vastly underfunded.
Some 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the DRC; 1.7 million of whom were violently forced to flee their homes in 2017. This recent spike of displacement has made the DRC the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa. The majority of newly displaced people say that food is their biggest need and, in some areas, many of them have yet to receive any humanitarian assistance due to lack of funding.
In total, 13.1 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country in 2018. Children, young men, women and ethnic minorities have been among the hardest-hit. More than 4 million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition. Some 7.7 million people are expected to be impacted by the devastating effects of an acute food emergency, while 10.5 million have limited or no access to healthcare. An estimated 4.7 million women and girls will be exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) in crisis-affected areas in 2018.
“The humanitarian situation in the DRC is at breaking point as is our capacity to respond due to extremely limited funding,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM DRC Chief of Mission. IOM is coordinating humanitarian activities in three of these provinces experiencing the highest levels of displacement: Kasai, North Kivu, and Tanganyika. “The stories that Congolese, who have been forced from their homes, are telling us are bone-chilling. They have been through so much already – torture, rape and murder of their loved ones – we cannot stand idly by as they suffer in silence.”
IOM is appealing for USD 75 million to urgently meet the growing needs of displaced Congolese and the communities hosting them in the eastern and south-central provinces of North and South Kivu, Tanganyika and the Kasai. You can read IOM’s full appeal here.
IOM’s interventions in 2018 will focus on the following sectors: Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Displacement Tracking, Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFIs), Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health, and Protection, particularly responding to gender-based violence (GBV) and helping unaccompanied or separated children. CCCM, a core activity of IOM in the DRC, ensures equitable access to humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people, improving their quality of life and conditions. It also includes an advocacy component towards durable solutions for displacement. Data from our displacement tracking activities are utilized by the whole humanitarian community in the DRC.
Since its release, only USD 3.5 million has been given towards IOM’s appeal and in 2017, only 47 per cent of the overall inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan was funded. This means that vital programmes have been unable to start, leaving thousands of displaced people in need. A revised inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan is set to be released this Thursday (18/01).
“Funding levels are at their lowest for many years, with DRC seeming to have “fallen off the map” for many donors, at a time when we are facing vastly increased humanitarian needs. This is a worrying trend that we hope does not continue throughout 2018. Around the world, displaced people have similar needs, whether it is shelter, health or protection, we need to see a similar level of funding to other crises, ensuring that the needs of displaced Congolese are met appropriately,” said Chauzy.