The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is experiencing a significant change in conflict patterns, with growing intercommunal tensions and violence affecting new parts of the country. DRC is now one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises, in which 7.3 million people need humanitarian assistance.
The relentlessly acute nature of the crisis, the lack of basic social services throughout the country and the persistent armed conflict have led to the internal displacement of 3.8 million people. This is the highest number of displaced people in the African continent.
The crisis that began in the Kasai region in August 2016 has grown into a humanitarian emergency of dramatic proportions. The region was once a stable area of DRC, but it now faces shifting patterns of violence and inter-community tensions. With an average of 8,000 people displaced daily, the total number of internally displaced people from the Kasai region has reached some 1.3 million. An estimated 1.2 million of those people will need some type of humanitarian assistance for the next six months. About 42 per cent of households in the three Kasai provinces are now food insecure, and some of the displaced people are at risk of contracting epidemics.
The conflict’s rapid expansion to the Kasai region has caused serious protection concerns for the affected people. Almost daily, there are reports of brutal clashes, including those between communities, and reports of women being raped and children wounded by machetes. An estimated 500 boys and girls have been recruited as child soldiers.
This continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation has led to increased funding requirements for the response. On 25 April, the Humanitarian Country Team issued a Flash Appeal for the Kasais, requesting US$64.5 million to respond to the needs of 731,000 people over six months. As the Kasai region has not been an area of traditional humanitarian response, the region requires new investment to address the pressing needs of the affected people, who desperately need life-saving humanitarian assistance.
In 2016, the country’s Humanitarian Response Plan required $690 million. This year, the requirement has increased to $812.5 million, as much more needs to be done to protect civilians and save lives. However, the humanitarian community’s ability to respond is hampered by severe underfunding, as only 22.4 per cent of the appeal is funded.