May 29, 2024

The UNHCR urgently appeals for assistance to 6.2 million individuals displaced by conflict in DR Congo.

Tony Gibbs in Democratic of Republic of Congo

The situation in the eastern regions of the Democratic of Republic of Congo (DRC) has become incredibly dire due to recurring cycles of violence executed by armed groups and the resulting displacement, which is affecting millions of already-vulnerable civilians. The UN Refugee Agency, known as UNHCR, is highly worried about the severe situations in which more than 6. 2 million people who have been displaced internally live. Moreover, the agency has pointed out the issues of human rights abuse and gender-based violence that these displaced people are experiencing.

In order to better comprehend the magnitude of the emergency situation and investigate ways to enhance the provision of life-saving aid to displaced communities in eastern DRC, the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioners for Protection and Operations, Gillian Triggs and Raouf Mazou, made a trip to the country this week. “While on their trip, they observed the immense difficulties that afflicted communities had to endure. ”

The delegation visited Beni, located in the North Kivu province, where they encountered individuals who had recently returned and received housing aid from UNHCR and its associates. Although the aid has provided some respite, it is clear that fundamental necessities have yet to be satisfied, presenting substantial obstacles for those who have returned. The female members of the community emphasized the difficulties they encounter in supplying food for their households. The fertile lands in the region have been rendered inaccessible due to the continued prevalence of armed factions, thereby impeding the farmers’ ability to cultivate and maintain their livelihood.

“In the absence of peace, the compounded risks faced by displaced people will continue to multiply, pushing families into greater desperation,” said Triggs. “We must continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls who are suffering from this dire situation, in particular from sexual violence and abuse.”

In the North Kivu province’s capital of Goma, over 600,000 individuals who have been displaced are taking refuge in crude shelters that are unsuitable for harsh weather conditions. The UNHCR’s commitment to the communities was highlighted by the participation of both Assistant High Commissioners in the distribution of blankets, tarpaulins, and other items at a sudden displacement spot located only 13 kilometers away from Goma, known as Luchagara.

“We remain committed to providing life-saving assistance and coordinating across key humanitarian services, including providing psychosocial care and provision of emergency shelter,” said Mazou.

“However, the massive scale of displacement, including 1.2 million people who have fled conflict in North Kivu since March 2022, is a major challenge that urgently requires more support from the international community.”

Massive displacement crises often have the most severe impact on women and children. The group was exposed to personal anecdotes from families outlining the severe consequences of the crisis on a child’s education, resulting in the loss of an entire year of schooling as a result of displacement. The surge in gender-based violence towards women and girls in overcrowded areas of displacement has caused great concern among the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations. The rising prevalence of transactional sex among displaced households is a troubling issue, which can be attributed to their lack of access to food.

Although the region is still grappling with insecurity and ongoing violent confrontations, displaced individuals are encountering limited possibilities to safely and properly return to their residences and means of subsistence. More resources are required immediately to maintain aid for the families that have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As of 2023, the UNHCR has received a mere 29 percent of the $233 million required to address the needs of displaced individuals in the nation.