Violence and repeated armed clashes in several provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are causing alarming levels of human suffering.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is particularly concerned about the 7 million people in need of emergency assistance, more than half of whom have been displaced by violence.
People have suffered unimaginable difficulties, including displacement, separation from family members, abuse, looting, injury or violent death
“People have suffered unimaginable difficulties, including displacement, separation from family members, abuse, looting, injury or violent death,” Patricia Danzi, ICRC’s Africa director, said while on a visit to DRC.
“We call for the international community to mobilize and respond to the needs of millions of people hard-hit by violence and armed conflict,” she added.
The violence facing civilians in the DRC has been off the world’s radar for some time. Funding from donor governments has gradually decreased, leading DRC to be one of the most underfunded countries the ICRC works in.
“This week I met a displaced family who returned to their village, which has been burnt to embers, because they were too destitute to rebuild elsewhere. They live in desperate conditions, and it’s heartbreaking to see the many similar stories here. More needs to be done to help those in need,” she said.
Violence is particularly prevalent in North and South Kivu, and more recently in Kasai and Tanganyika. In 2016, the DRC had the world’s highest number of people forced to leave their homes – nearly 1 million — and move elsewhere in DRC because of violence – more than in Syria or Iraq.
As part of its humanitarian operations, the ICRC, in partnership with the Congolese Red Cross, has assisted more than 352,000 displaced persons or residents in 2017. More than 10,000 civilians and military personnel have been educated about international humanitarian law (IHL), an effort in part to reduce attacks against civilians.