Humanitarian needs have reached a new high in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mid-June, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee – The UN’s highest-level humanitarian coordination forum – activated the “scale up” of humanitarian operations in the country. But international NGOs are already concerned that it will be insufficient to address the multiplicity of crises facing the country.
Intensified conflicts cause crisis upon crisis
The DRC is home to one of the most neglected crises in this world. The fighting that has been going on for decades escalated to a new high in November 2022, and then again in February 2023 in Nord Kivu and in May 2023 in Ituri.
As a result of conflict, almost 2.5 million people are internally displaced in the province of Nord Kivu, where Medair works from the bases in Goma and Butembo. Population displacement has also put a strain on the Ituri province, where Medair operates from Bunia.
“Because the conflict has been going on for long, people may think the situation stays the same, says Marian Wetshay-van der Snoek, Country Director for Medair-Congo. But the scale of the current crisis would make the world news if they were happening anywhere else.”
The crisis is also a medical one: a cholera epidemic broke out in North Kivu in late 2022 in the camps where people live very close together, as well as a measles epidemic in January 2023.
In the whole if the DRC, almost 26 million people will face acute food insecurity in 2023, the highest number of food-insecure people in the world.
NGOs scaled up their capacity, but fears remain
Medair responds to these needs by intervening in a growing number of health facilities offering free health care and care for malnourished children. It also runs WASH activities in all these health facilities, as well as a WASH and Community Engagement program for cholera prevention in camps of internally displaced people (IDP). Emergency Response Teams have also scaled up their activities since December.
Unfortunately, technical and financial resources will be insufficient to meet the needs. Worst still, access to the population may be increasingly challenged.
In a press release on 22 June, the International NGO Forum in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FONGI) – of which Medair is a member – expressed its alarm “by the reduction in humanitarian space due to the resurgence of conflict leading to a worrying worsening of the plight of affected populations.”
“The upsurge of violence in the DRC over the last six months is extremely worrying. This ever-increasing violence targets not only the population, but also the humanitarian and development operations undertaken on behalf of these same populations,” said Luc Lamprière, representative of the INGO Forum in the DRC.
If the resources of international NGOs and their partners operating in the DRC are not significantly increased, there is a great risk that the response will be insufficient to deal with the multiplicity of crises facing the country.
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This article is based on the press release issued by the International NGO Forum in the DRC on 22 June 2023. For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org