As of 2023, the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has escalated to alarming levels, characterized by widespread violence and displacement.
In North Kivu, the resurgence of the M23 armed group has led to armed clashes, forcing nearly one million people to flee their homes. Similarly, Ituri and South Kivu provinces are also experiencing high levels of violence, resulting in severe consequences for the local population. Despite the catastrophic humanitarian situation, aid remains scarce and the needs of the people are largely unmet.
In a distressing development, the UN reported in late October that the DRC has almost seven million displaced individuals, with around five million concentrated in the eastern part of the country – a record high. The ongoing violence between armed groups in North Kivu, particularly the M23, has caused continuous large-scale movements of people across various territories, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
Germain Lubango Kabemba, MSF country representative in Goma, described the current situation in North Kivu as catastrophic, emphasizing the urgent need for action. The violence in North Kivu has also resulted in multiple waves of displacement into South Kivu, leading to deteriorating hygiene conditions and increased cases of cholera.
In Ituri, a third of the population is now displaced due to prolonged conflict, resulting in significant mental and physical challenges for those affected. Alira Halidou, MSF head of mission in Ituri, highlighted the region’s decades-long lack of investment in basic medical services and infrastructure, making access to healthcare extremely difficult even without the added impact of conflict.
MSF teams witness the harsh living conditions faced by displaced individuals on a daily basis, including inadequate shelter, food, water, and sanitation. These vulnerable populations are at high risk of illness and infectious diseases, with women particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
Alira Halidou stressed the urgent need for concrete action from international humanitarian organizations to address the pressing needs of displaced communities. Despite MSF’s calls for aid mobilization, the response has been insufficient, underscoring the need for an urgent and united international effort to address the crisis in the DRC.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).