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Aid still not Reaching Displaced People in one of the most Underfunded Crises: DR Congo
Kinshasa – Since the last quarter of 2017, violence carried out by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has led to a steep rise in the number of people displaced in the country - more than 4.5 million - and the humanitarian assistance that they need. A majority have yet to be reached with aid due to lack of funding and access.
In the first week of February, attacks by armed groups in the Beni Territory of North-Kivu led to more than 2,200 people being displaced from their homes. This is in addition to the 1,500 people who were displaced at the end of January to the Oicha Health Zone in Beni territory. As of 14 February, there were more than 12,000 displaced people sheltering in that locality. This is in addition to the over 1.3 million displaced people in the territory alone.
This recent violence and displacement has led to an escalated need for humanitarian assistance in the north of Beni Territory, where the Oicha Health Zone is located. Due to a lack of capacity as a result of low levels of funding, no humanitarian actors have yet to reach the areas where displaced people are arriving - leading to their most basic needs not being met, like food and shelter.
Since the start of February, Djugu territory in the province just south of North-Kivu, Ituri, has seen a surge in inter-ethnic violence between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups. Fleeing burning villages and for fear of their lives, 28,634 people have been displaced to Bunia, Ituri’s provincial capital, in the last couple of weeks. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the deadly violence has also caused 34,000 Congolese to cross Lake Albert into Uganda since the start of January 2018.
“Some funding has come in but not nearly enough to meet the critical needs of millions in the DRC,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the DRC. “We hope the upcoming donor pledging conference for the crisis in the DRC in mid-April will lead to more financial support to avert more unnecessary deaths and suffering,” added Chauzy.
The greater Kasai region, consisting of the Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Lomami and Sankuru provinces, was previously considered calm. However, since 2016 intercommunal and land-related conflicts have been escalating. During the worst days of 2017, the region had a population of approximately 1.3 million internally displaced people. Today, the region hosts 896,000 internally displaced people and has seen the largest population of people returning to their areas of origin, 605,000.
As the security situation in some areas has improved over the past months, some internally displaced people are returning to burned down villages and are in urgent need of humanitarian support. Since September 2017, IOM has launched a project to better monitor the displacement situation in Kasai region, which will collect more accurate data on population movements, the number of internally displaced people and returnees, as well as their needs. This information informs the whole humanitarian community’s response in the region.
In the Tanganyika province, IOM is organizing the relocation of displaced people from collective centres to displacement sites in Kalemie, Tanganyika’s provincial capital. This will ensure that these displaced populations have better access to humanitarian assistance, livable shelters, clean water and sanitation and relative safety. Accommodation will be provided in transit centres, while the families build their shelters in the displacement site with the support of an IOM-provided Emergency Shelter Kit.
IOM is also assisting those who wish to return voluntary to either their areas of origin or chosen areas of return. Facilitating movement from collective centres will also allow the centres to be used for their origin purposes. Majority of these collective center are schools and those are targeted in priority for IOM’s return and relocation operations. As of 8 March, IOM has supported the transfer of 205 households to the Kalunga site and 150 have been supported to return to areas close to Kalemie town. The security situation remains unstable in territories like Bendera and Nyunzu, which prevents some displaced families from returning home.
Since its release, only USD 4.7 million has been given towards IOM’s USD 75 million appeal for 2018. You can read IOM’s full appeal here. IOM’s appeal is part of the wider UN humanitarian response plan.