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The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains precarious and extremely fluid. This is principally a result of continuing conflicts between communities, between non-state armed groups and Congolese security forces, and due to prevailing socio-economic challenges that affect the most vulnerable Congolese. An estimated 12.8 people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019: this figure represents 10 per cent of the total worldwide humanitarian caseload. Those affected by this complex and widespread crisis remain exposed to pervasive human rights violations, especially sexual and gender-based violence, chronic malnutrition, and epidemics, notably cholera, measles, and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Insecurity has had a devastating impact on people’s capacity to access food, and 12.8 million people across the DRC are facing severe food insecurity. The situation is further complicated by political uncertainty and economic downturn.

This deterioration, observed mainly in the Kasais, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces, is taking place against the backdrop of one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises. Across the DRC, at least 12.8 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, more than 1.3 million children under 5 are affected by severe acute malnutrition and outbreaks of diseases, including cholera and measles, affect tens of thousands of people every year. More than 30,000 suspected cholera cases were reported throughout 2018 (as at end-December 2018) and 966 deaths, which denotes an unusually high lethality rate of 3.2 per cent. The ongoing EVD epidemic in North Kivu province also remains among the major ongoing emergencies in terms of potential humanitarian consequences, and is the tenth and largest outbreak of EVD in the DRC.

Aid organizations in the DRC operate in an exceptionally complex and challenging environment. Insecurity hinders humanitarian partners’ ability to reach vulnerable populations, and limited logistical infrastructure, vast swaths of wilderness, and administrative impediments add an additional layer of complexity.

Despite these challenges, humanitarian partners delivered life-saving assistance and protection to close to 3 million people in 2018. However, this was far from the 10.5 million people targeted by the 2017-2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) update in 2018. The largest impediment to efficient, effective and timely humanitarian response in the DRC remains consistent underfunding. According to Financial Tracking Service (FTS), only 45 per cent the funding requested under the 2018 HRP was received by the end of 2018 (US$758 million of the required $1.65 billion). Although this is a significant increase compared to the funding received in 2017, this has still not been commensurate with needs, given that during 2017-2018 the humanitarian needs in the country almost doubled. Additional funding is urgently required to support the scale-up of response in areas where new needs have emerged while continuing to deliver in areas of existing need. The update of the three-year HRP for 2019 was finalised in mid-January and is requesting for US$1.65 billion to target 9 million people this year alone.