ASG Catherine Bragg's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo
Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on an official visit to the country. During the five-day mission the ASG will travel to the capital, Kinshasa, and visit the South Kivu and Orientale provinces affected by armed violence.
The humanitarian situation in DRC is one of the world’s most serious and long-standing due to continuing armed conflict and general insecurity. The complex humanitarian crisis is compounded by widespread poverty, chronic instability and serious abuses against civilians. It is estimated that 1.7 million people are displaced due to armed violence and millions of people live in fear of attacks by armed groups, including killing, looting, sexual violence and burning of villages and homes.
In the Upper and Lower Uele districts, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to attack civilians. Over 100 presumed LRA attacks have been reported in DRC since the beginning of 2011. Some 33,000 new displacements were recorded during the first quarter of 2011, bringing the total number of displaced in LRA affected areas in DRC to an estimated 335,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Since late 2008, the LRA are allegedly responsible for killing over 2,000 people and abducting 1,800 adults and 950 children in DRC. Abducted women are used as slaves, including for sex, while children are trained to fight for the LRA.
Protecting civilians, preventing and responding to sexual violence, and humanitarian access to people in conflict areas are among the priorities that the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator will raise with authorities, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), and the humanitarian community.
“This crisis receives far less attention than it deserves. We call on the Government to step up its relief efforts. We also urge donors and the rest of the international community to continue supporting humanitarian response, notably in the north-east, to alleviate the suffering of thousands, while working with the Government to promote peace and stabilization,” said Ms. Bragg.
In a meeting today in Kinshasa with Raymond Tshibanda, Minister of International and Regional Cooperation, and Ferdinand Kambere, Minister of Social and Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Bragg welcomed the close cooperation between the Government of DRC and the international community in addressing humanitarian needs, protection concerns, and the safety of humanitarian workers.
The ministers and Ms. Bragg also discussed the peace process in the east, and the crisis involving the LRA in the north-east. Humanitarian access remains a key challenge in DRC. Humanitarian actors have been increasingly targeted since 2008 and attacks are often brutal. During the second week of April 2011 alone, international NGOs reported five separate attacks in the Kivus and Province Orientale, resulting in two fatalities and three serious injuries.