May 29, 2024

Unprecedented displacement in DRC creates massive needs for locals

Unprecedented displacement in DRC creates massive needs everywhere.

Andre Jean Marie in Democratic Republic of Congo

The humanitarian crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has escalated dramatically in 2023, characterized by widespread violence and immense displacement.

In North Kivu, the reemergence of the M23 armed group has resulted in armed conflicts, leading to the displacement of around one million individuals from their residences.

Frequently overlooked, Ituri and South Kivu provinces experience the same enduring violence, leading to severe consequences for their inhabitants. The humanitarian crisis is dire, with limited aid available and the needs of the people are not being adequately addressed.

In a significant development, the UN reported in late October that the DRC has close to seven million individuals who have been forced to leave their homes, with approximately five million residing in the eastern region – an unprecedented number.

Continuous and extensive displacement of people in Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, and Masisi territories has been caused by ongoing violence involving various armed groups, with the M23 being particularly notable in North Kivu. The humanitarian crisis has worsened due to the increased conflict escalation since October of this year.

Germain Lubango Kabemba, MSF country representative in Goma, describes the current state of the province as extremely dire. Everywhere you turn, there is a pressing need to take action.

At the same time, the conflict in North Kivu caused many people to flee to South Kivu, particularly in the area of Minova and nearby villages. This resulted in a rise in cholera cases due to the already precarious hygiene conditions. Concurrently, the insecurity in North Kivu led to the closure of health facilities, causing individuals in need of continuous healthcare to relocate to the south.

Due to years of conflict, approximately 33% of the population in Ituri has been forced to leave their homes and become displaced. Individuals experiencing long-term displacement suffer significant mental and physical impacts.

Alira Halidou, the head of mission in Ituri for MSF, stated that in the past three decades, there has been a significant decrease in essential medical services and infrastructure in the region. This has made accessing medical services extremely difficult, even without the added challenge of conflict.

A startling reminder or a sudden realization.

Every day, the teams from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) observe the severe effects of the harsh living conditions on people who have been forced to flee from violence. They reside in temporary shelters without access to basic necessities such as sufficient food, clean drinking water, and proper sanitation facilities.

They have become highly susceptible to getting sick and contracting contagious diseases like cholera and measles. Women are at a heightened risk of experiencing sexual violence, as evidenced by the alarmingly high rates of incidents.

Alira Halidou states that although there are extensive humanitarian needs, as a medical organization, they are only able to address the most urgent and critical ones.

“Currently, there is an urgent need for decisive and unambiguous support from global humanitarian organizations to address the escalating crisis faced by displaced communities. ”

“We are increasingly aware of the communities’ urgent requests for additional assistance to fulfill their fundamental requirements. ” The absence of humanitarian aid in many parts of eastern DRC is not a new issue, but the current high level of needs should serve as a warning signal.

Although MSF has consistently urged for an increase in aid mobilization, the level of progress achieved is still inadequate. The urgent and united international response is required to address the crisis in the DRC. Now is the time to focus on providing support to the individuals and communities who require it most and to make sure that their voices, including those of our patients, are recognized and listened to.