Africa

Warning: Huge Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding Right Before Our Eyes!

Ms. Keita, who also heads the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, sounded the alarm over the humanitarian disaster “unfolding before our very eyes”.

More than seven million people in the country are displaced, particularly due to the operations of armed groups such as the M23 and the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) across the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. 

“As this Council has regularly reiterated, echoed by a recent statement of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, all foreign forces illegally operating on DRC’s territory need to withdraw, and national and foreign armed groups, such as the ADF and FDLR, need to be disarmed,” she said.   

Security reform a priority 

Ms. Keita presented the latest MONUSCO report, which covers political, security, human rights and humanitarian developments in the DRC over the past three months.

She said the presidential, national, and provincial legislative elections held in December were largely peaceful, despite major logistical challenges.

President Félix Tshisekedi secured a second term in office and announced that reform of the security and defense sector would be one of his main priorities. Negotiations around the formation of a new government are underway.

Tensions and atrocities

However, the security situation in the east deteriorated further following December’s polls, she said, with the M23 making significant advances and expanding its territory to unprecedented levels. This has resulted in an even more disastrous humanitarian situation, with internal displacement reaching unparalleled numbers.

The reporting period also saw Angola mediating in the wake of regional tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, and the start of the deployment of the Southern Africa Mission to the DRC (SAMIDRC) to North Kivu.

Although the M23 crisis has drawn a great deal of attention, Ms. Keita highlighted atrocities committed by other groups, such as ADF, particularly on the border between North Kivu and Ituri.

Almost 200 people have been killed there since the beginning of the year, she said, noting that insecurity in Ituri is fueled by the actions of four militias – CODECO, Zaire, FRPI and FPIC – as well as the ADF.

South Kivu has also seen a resurgence of tensions, driven by armed groups and inter-community rivalry. Frequent rumours about the presence of M23 elements, and the extension of the conflict from North Kivu towards the south, have further compounded the situation.

An escalation of tensions between Rwanda and Burundi, which led to the closing of their border by the Burundian authorities, was another issue that could lead to destabilization of the province and the region as a whole, she added.

Protecting civilians

To protect civilians, MONUSCO and the Congolese army have continued joint operations in Ituri and North Kivu, and strengthened a defensive operation known as “Springbok” in efforts to protect areas in the vicinity of Goma, the North Kivu capital, and nearby Sake.

Ms. Keita said UN peacekeepers have come under direct and indirect fire “almost on a daily basis”. Recently, mortar fire from M23-occupied positions landed on MONUSCO bases in Sake, wounding eight peacekeepers and six civilian staff, which she condemned. 

The M23 also managed to occupy all former positions held by East African forces, which withdrew completely in January after more than a year in place, allowing the group to move further south to encircle Goma and Sake.

In the meantime, deployment of SAMIDRC continues and troops have begun providing assistance to the Congolese forces.

Waves of displacement

Turning to the humanitarian situation, Ms. Keita said the situation is in particular due to the escalation of the M23 crisis in North Kivu as well as the prolonged armed violence in Ituri and South Kivu.

Some 7.1 million people are internally displaced, according to the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, or 800,000 more since she last briefed the Council three months ago.

Furthermore, 23.4 million Congolese are facing hunger and malnutrition, one in four, making the DRC the country which is most affected by food insecurity.

Waves of internally displaced persons continue to arrive in Goma and the surrounding area. As of last month, more than 104 displacement sites were recorded around the city alone, hosting more than 630,000 people.

Record spike in gender-based violence 

“Cases of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation have also reached new records. In January 2024 alone, 10,400 cases of gender-based violence were reported across the country, a much higher increase than in previous years,” she added.

Ms. Keita urged the international community to address the humanitarian disaster.  However, she noted that the $2.6 billion humanitarian response plan for the DRC this year is only around 14 per cent funded.   

Source

13 Comments

  1. It’s heartbreaking to see such a devastating humanitarian crisis unfold in DR Congo. Foreign forces must withdraw, and armed groups need to be disarmed to bring peace and security to the region. President Tshisekedi’s focus on security reform is crucial for the country’s stability.

  2. It’s alarming to see the humanitarian crisis unfolding in DR Congo. The international community must prioritize supporting the displaced people and addressing the threat of armed groups operating in the country.

  3. It’s heartbreaking to witness the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the DRC. The alarming number of people displaced and the operations of armed groups are a pressing concern. Action needs to be taken swiftly to address this crisis and ensure the safety of the vulnerable population.

  4. Could you provide more details on the efforts being made to address the increasing displacement of people in the eastern provinces?

    1. Of course. Efforts are underway to address the increasing displacement of people in the eastern provinces, especially with the alarming rise of armed group activities. Ms. Keita highlighted the urgent need for foreign forces to withdraw, and for national and foreign armed groups to be disarmed. President Tshisekedi also emphasized security sector reform as a main priority. Stay tuned for updates on the ongoing negotiations for a new government.

  5. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the DRC. Ms. Keita’s plea for the withdrawal of foreign forces and disarmament of armed groups is crucial for the safety of the millions of displaced people. President Tshisekedi’s focus on security reform gives hope for a better future, but urgent action is needed to prevent further suffering.

  6. Does the article mention any specific actions being taken to address the alarming humanitarian crisis in the DRC?

    1. Yes, Ms. Keita mentioned the urgent need for all foreign forces illegally operating in the DRC to withdraw, and for national and foreign armed groups to be disarmed. President Félix Tshisekedi has highlighted the reform of the security and defense sector as a key priority in addressing the crisis.

  7. It is truly heart-wrenching to see such a massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in the DRC. The situation demands urgent attention and decisive action from international bodies to address the plight of the millions of displaced people. Security reforms must be a top priority to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.

  8. Is there any specific plan in place to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri mentioned in the article?

    1. Indeed, addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri is crucial. The situation demands immediate action and coordination among all stakeholders involved to ensure the safety and well-being of the displaced population.

  9. It is truly heart-wrenching to read about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the DRC. Ms. Keita’s plea for the withdrawal of foreign forces and disarmament of armed groups is crucial for the safety and well-being of millions of displaced individuals. I hope that swift action is taken to address this dire situation.

  10. It is truly disheartening to see the ongoing humanitarian crisis described in the article. Ms. Keita’s warning about the unfolding disaster is alarming. The need for all foreign forces illegally operating on DRC’s territory to withdraw, as stated by her, is crucial for the humanitarian situation to improve. Security reform must indeed be a priority, and I hope the international community takes decisive action to address this dire situation.

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