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UNHCR and UNICEF Express Grave Concern Over Escalating Humanitarian Crisis in Eastern DR Congo

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, jointly express deep concern over the intensifying crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Violent clashes between non-state armed groups and government forces have forcibly displaced more than 450,000 people in the last six weeks in Rutshuru and Masisi territories in North Kivu Province.

The severity of the crisis is exacerbated by limited humanitarian access, primarily due to obstructed major routes. Approximately 200,000 internally displaced people are currently stranded, with an additional 100,000 anticipated to face restricted access in the coming days if conflict trends persist.

Road disruptions impede the delivery of critical humanitarian aid and increase the vulnerability of displaced populations, leaving them without essential resources and protection. Despite UNHCR’s efforts, the international community must urgently address the obstruction of humanitarian access to ensure that nearly 7 million people affected by conflict in eastern DRC receive immediate help.

The situation is underscored by harrowing narratives of displaced people in Sake, arriving by the tens of thousands, describing dire choices due to aid inaccessibility. The escalation of violence has led to an alarming increase in human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary killings, kidnappings, extortion, and property destruction.

Children, in particular, face severe violations of their rights, with a 130% increase in reported cases between July and September 2023. Recruitment and use by armed groups have also risen by 50%, posing a growing threat to children’s well-being.

Humanitarian actors are urgently scaling up assistance to tackle overcrowding and inadequate shelter in spontaneous sites, with limited access to food and clean water. Cholera outbreaks persist, signaling concerning limitations of available humanitarian aid.

UNHCR and UNICEF call on all actors in eastern DRC to cease violence immediately. The international community is urged to act swiftly and generously to ensure sufficient resources are mobilized, as the humanitarian response in the DRC remains significantly underfunded. 

The coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023, including both UNHCR and UNICEF financial needs, is set at US$2.3 billion, with only 37% funded as of today.

Source: ReliefWeb

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