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DR Congo: A complex web of humanitarian needs

01 May 2020


In early March, the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined a long list of countries facing COVID-19. This new public health crisis comes on top of an already large, complex and prolonged humanitarian crisis that risks being forgotten. It is critical to maintain attention and funding to meet the essential needs identified in the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to save lives. A deterioration in the broader humanitarian situation would also have a catastrophic impact on the country’s ability to address COVID-19. Here are some key facts about the humanitarian crisis and response in the DRC.

Home to the second highest absolute number of severely food insecure people in the world: It is estimated that 15.6 million are severely food insecure, of which some 4.7 million suffer from acute malnutrition. In the Kasai region, joint Government-World Food Programme statistics indicated that as many as 85 per cent of displaced communities and those who had returned to their homes in recent months were suffering from malnutrition. In the DRC, food insecurity and malnutrition are the consequences of a complex web of factors, including insecurity, abandoning fields and lack of economic opportunities. Half of this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan budget is linked to food security and nutrition.

Photo: OCHA/ I.Brandau

The largest number of internally displaced people in Africa: On any given week, some people are forced to leave their homes, fleeing insecurity and armed violence. It is estimated that some 5.5 million people are currently displaced in the country, making it DRC one of the countries most affected by internal displacement worldwide. Displacement disrupts the lives of families, from parents who can no longer earn an income to children who are forced to miss out on school. While humanitarian actors try to address the consequences of displacement, tackling the root causes- restoring peace and security- remains the only lasting solution.

Photo: OCHA/ I. Brandau

Fighting the deadliest and longest measles outbreak in its history. Since January 2019, measles, a contagious disease, has already killed over 6,600 people, the vast majority children. In a race to end the epidemic, Congolese health authorities and international partners have vaccinated over 24 million children aged between 6 and 59 months, but millions more are still to be vaccinated.

Photo: OCHA/ A. Ndiaye

At the same time, the country is facing its longest Ebola outbreak. Since June 2018, multi-disciplinary teams have been battling the country’s tenth and deadliest outbreak of Ebola. Hopes of declaring an end to the epidemic by mid-April were crushed in early April when several new cases were discovered in the area of Beni, North Kivu Province.

Photo: UN/M. Perret

Thousands of families cut off from aid: Poor roads — that become impassable during the rainy season- and persisting insecurity in some areas have meant that thousands of people have not received any aid. In South Kivu Province for instance, some 400,000 people are estimated to have been cut off from aid since late 2019 in the areas of Bijombo, Fizi and Itombwe. Women, children and the elderly have paid a heavy price in terms of health, access to food, and protection.

Photo: OCHA/ A. Ndiaye​​​​​​​

At the beginning of 2020, US$ 1.82 billion was needed to provide lifesaving assistance to 8.1 million people: On 28 February, in Kinshasa, the Congolese government and the humanitarian community appealed for $1.82 billion for aid, reflecting the prolonged and complex humanitarian crisis that has disrupted millions of lives and the country’s development. Amidst global attention on the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community and donors must not overlook the country’s broader acute humanitarian needs.

Photo: OCHA/ A. Ndiaye​​​​​​​

Originally posted on Medium by OCHADRCongo