The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has dramatically worsened over the last year. As inter-communal tensions exploded into brutal violence in communities once considered relatively stable, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes without a moment’s notice. Those who make it to safety tell stories of gangs wielding machetes, guns, and other weapons swarming villages—killing, looting, and burning their way through to the next. Most women and girls have survived unspeakable acts of sexual violence.
More than 13 million people in DRC are currently in dire need of humanitarian relief. That is double last year’s number. Right now, more than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat, and more than 2 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Disease outbreaks affect tens of thousands of Congolese every year. But in 2017, as increased violence forced people from their homes and limited access to clean water and healthcare, the cholera outbreak was the worst the nation has seen in 15 years.
International Medical Corps experts have been tirelessly working to provide healthcare and other critical services and supplies to those in need in North Kivu and Tanganyika, two provinces plagued by ongoing conflict for the last 20 years. As violence erupts in new areas of the country, International Medical Corps is exploring ways to best help meet the rapidly increasing needs.
International Medical Corps recently deployed an Emergency Response Team to assess the situation in Ituri Province, which borders Uganda in northeast DRC. More than 300,000 people in Ituri have been forced from their homes as entire villages are overrun by violence. Our team is working to identify the most pressing needs, particularly with regard to healthcare, nutrition, and the prevention of gender-based violence as well as treatment for survivors.
Despite it being one of the nations most affected by displacement due to conflict, most of the world is not paying attention. Emergency relief efforts in DRC are hampered by a lack of funding even as the humanitarian crisis deepens by the day.
International Medical Corps has been working in DRC since 1999, and we stand ready to expand our efforts to help those in need.