UN

The UN has decried the dire humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saying the world could not stand idle as millions in the crisis-torn country ‘suffer in silence’.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said dramatic deterioration in the humanitarian situation in DRC over the past year had been further complicated by recent floods and health crises.

The UN migration agency said appealed for urgent funding to ensure continued assistance and protection for millions in need.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, Head of Operations for IOM in the country, said: “The humanitarian situation in the DRC is at breaking point as is our capacity to respond due to extremely limited funding.

“The stories that Congolese, who have been forced from their homes, are telling us are bone-chilling.

They have been through so much already – torture, rape and murder of their loved ones – we cannot stand idly by as they suffer in silence..

“If we don’t get that level of funding then, there are people who will die. I have to be clear with this. People will die”.

He said that the severe malnutrition rates in the Kasai had increased by 750 per cent largely because the people in the region has been displaced so often, three planting seasons had been missed.

“So if you don’t provide that kind of food assistance now – to kind of bridge that gap – people who have been living off foraging in the forest, they will suffer, and the most vulnerable will die first. Children will die first. And that’s a fact,” he warned.

Across the country, some 4.3 million remain displaced, of them 1.7 were forced from their homes last year while in 2018, over 13 million were feared to be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country.

Children, young men, women and ethnic minorities were among the hardest hit, and nutrition, food-security and protection were the greatest needs.

IOM said particularly worrying was that an estimated 4.7 million women and girls could be exposed to gender-based violence in crisis stricken areas.

IOM regretted that in face of such daunting challenges, its response appeal was severely underfunded as only 3.5 million dollars was received in 2017 and only 47 per cent of the overall inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017 was funded.

“Funding levels are at their lowest for many years, with DRC seeming to have ‘fallen off the map’ for many donors, at a time when we are facing vastly increased humanitarian needs,” Chauzy added, hoping that the same would not continue through 2018.

The UN agency had appealed for 75 million dollars to urgently meet the growing needs of displaced Congolese and the communities hosting them in the eastern and south-central provinces of North and South Kivu, Tanganyika and the Kasai.

Its interventions in 2018 would focus on camp coordination management; displacement tracking; shelter and non-food items; water, sanitation and hygiene; health; and protection.

According to IOM, a revised inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan is to be released on Thursday.