In DR Congo the number of people in need is the same as in SyriaMore than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is twice as many as in 2017 – and the same number as in Syria. The need for more assistance is huge and acute, the Danish Refugee Council's Secretary General, Christian Friis Bach, and Chairman of the board, Stig Glent-Madsen. said today in a statement. They visited DR Congo over the past week to get a first hand impression of the humanitarian situation.
According to the UN, there are more than 4.5 million internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the highest number in Africa, and the highest number in more than 20 years for DR Congo that has have been plagued by conflicts. Currently, more than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance but this critical humanitarian situation doesn’t get the attention it needs – neither from the media nor the donors.
“This is one of the most severe humanitarian crisis the world is facing right now and at the same time, it is one of the most forgotten crisis. While the situation is complex and long-term, the needs of the civilians are acute. They need much more assistance and they need it now,” says Stig Glent-Madsen, Chairman of the board of the Danish Refugee Council - who is on a mission together with Christian Friis Bach, Secretary General to the Eastern part of DR Congo.
A range of armed groups are attacking villages, looting houses and fighting for the natural resources that are plentiful in DR Congo. In the midst of this, there are severe consequences for the civilian population who are on the receiving end of violent and brutal attacks.
”The armed groups fight each other and the Congolese government. And whenever that happens, the civilian Congolese are the losers in a game they have no stakes in. I met a women who had to flee her villages with her husband and their 7 children, when armed groups ravaged the area. When they fled they found a 10 year old girl left alone after her family had been killed. Now the family struggles to feed and fund the school fees for both their own children and the girl. This is the situation for many Congolese families,” says Stig Glent-Madsen.
Right now, nearly two million children are severely malnourished in DR Congo, acoording to the UN. The Danish Refugee Council has a strong focus on child protection and the consequences of the abuses the children or their family members have been exposed to.
”When I asked some children in a school what the most important human right is, they answered the right to life. That is something that makes a big impression and tells a lot about the vulnerable situation in the country. And it tells about the conditions that these young people live under and what they and their communities have experienced,” says Christian Friis Bach.
Despite the critical humanitarian situation – and a deteriorating security situation combined with bad infrastructure which makes humanitarian work dangerous and difficult – the humanitarian needs in DR Congo are still only 14 % covered. Therefore, Christian Friis Bach now calls for more support to the country.
“I attended a donor conference for DR Congo in Geneva a month ago. Pledges of 528 million were given, while at a similar event for Syria in Bruxelles two weeks ago, governments and donors promised to deliver 4.4 billion USD. This is a story about a forgotten crisis,” says Christian Friis Bach – and delivers a clear call to the international community:
”We need to stand by the Congolese people and step up our support. They deserve and need it,” says Christian Friis Bach.