Alarming Humanitarian Crisis in Eastern DRC Calls for Urgent Action to Protect Vulnerable Populations 

Armed groups continue to exacerbate violence, causing widespread displacement and straining an already fragile context.

Armed groups continue to exacerbate violence, causing widespread displacement and straining an already fragile context. Photo: IOM/Francois Xavier Ada Affana

Geneva / Goma, 2 July – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for immediate and sustained action to respond to the severe humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the situation continues to deteriorate.  Those displaced by the violence are suffering the brunt of what has been one of the world's most neglected crises.

As of October, last year, 6.9 million people were displaced across the DRC, a number expected to increase with the forthcoming reports. In North Kivu alone, by the end of May, 1.77 million people had been displaced by attacks from the M23 rebel group – a staggering 16 per cent increase from the previous report.

The humanitarian situation is dire. Armed groups continue to exacerbate violence, causing widespread displacement and straining an already fragile context. Earlier this month, a massacre of 42 people occurred in Lubero territory and in recent days the strategically located town of Kanyabayonga has reportedly been seized. In Goma, the socio-economic situation is rapidly deteriorating as the city remains isolated from supply routes. Despite efforts to reduce crime, civilians – including many displaced people – face theft, burglary, abuse, and harassment.

The proximity of frontlines and the presence of weapons in and around displacement sites significantly compromise the security of displaced populations. In 2024 alone, sixteen incidents in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) sites have resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people and injuries to more than 50. The increase in gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence and exploitation targeting women and girls, is equally alarming.

This crisis extends beyond North Kivu. Over 77,700 people have fled to South Kivu, and since April 2024, conflicts in Fizi territory have displaced nearly 30,000 people. The security situation in Ituri province remains volatile and unpredictable, with ongoing violations against civilians.

Additionally, disasters have compounded the humanitarian crisis. Rising water levels in Lake Tanganyika, heavy rains, and overflooded rivers have caused flooding and landslides, particularly in South Kivu and Tanganyika, displacing over 50,000 people in May alone.

Despite significant challenges, humanitarian organizations remain committed to providing life-saving support. However, the current response is insufficient to meet the overwhelming needs. The majority of displaced populations are staying with host families, while around one million reside in sites under the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) umbrella. Of these, 421,995 live in 81 sites managed by IOM, receiving shelter, water, and sanitation facilities.

Both IDPs in host families and sites face overcrowding, protection concerns, and limited assistance. Access to essential resources such as food, shelter, and healthcare remains critical. Continued data collection is essential to enable evidence-based assistance and improve coordination and site management.

The Humanitarian Response Plan 2024 aims to assist 8.7 million people and requires USD 2.6 billion, yet it is nearly 16 per cent funded as of 6 May 2024. IOM's Crisis Response Plan 2024 appeals for USD 190.5 million to target 2.4 million people, with only USD 24.8 million received so far.

The DRC is considered one of the world's forgotten crises due to its limited visibility and the global inaction it faces. Without an increase in humanitarian capacity and resources, the catastrophic situation in the DRC will continue to worsen. The IOM Director General, Amy Pope, appointed as the advocate of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on the DRC, will continue to champion support for the vulnerable Congolese population.

Provincial authorities, humanitarian, peacebuilding, and development organizations must collaborate to implement a stronger, coordinated response. This includes providing immediate relief to displaced populations and improving access to basic services. At the same time, medium and long-term solutions are needed, including supporting voluntary IDP returns when safe and addressing the root causes of the conflict.

The urgency is clear – action must be taken now to alleviate the suffering and protect the lives of millions in the DRC. 


For more information, please contact: 

In Goma: Daco Tambilika, 
In Nairobi: Yvonne Ndege,
In Geneva: Kennedy Okoth,