UNSC: 13 million people need humanitarian aid in DR Congo

Citing ongoing political turmoil, malnutrition, and a cholera outbreak, UN says millions need aid in the DRC.

A Congolese soldier from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) carries a box with bullets on top of his head near town of Kimbau
A Congolese soldier carries a box of ammunition near the town of Kimbau, North Kivu province [File: Reuters]

Humanitarian needs caused by conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have doubled over the last year, the UN Security Council said.

Speaking on Monday, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock said 13 million people are affected by internal conflict gripping the country and require humanitarian assistance.

“More than 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished, including 2.2 million suffering from severe acute malnutrition,” Lowcock said.

“We’re seeing mushrooming epidemics including the worst outbreak of cholera in 15 years. There’s also an epidemic of sexual violence – most of it unreported and unaddressed – and much of it against children.”

Fighting in the central African country has much to do with the long-delayed vote to replace President Joseph Kabila.

While elections were initially set for November 2016, they were pushed to December 2018. But the electoral commission has since said voting may not be possible until April 2019.

In the meantime, political opposition has been building up and a report released by the UN on Monday said at least 47 people were killed in the past year in demonstration-related violence.

Various warlords

Speaking from the UN headquarters in New York City, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna said the UN Security Council is drawing attention to the crisis in DRC – one that involves many layers.

“There’s the ongoing political uncertainty with a president who has overstayed his constitutional term in office,” Hanna said.

“There’s been ongoing conflict particularly in the north of the country where there are rebel groups still operating. There are also military groups associated with various warlords in the particular region.”

This has resulted in a massive amount of internally displaced people, Hanna said.

The UN has scheduled a donor’s conference on April 13, where Lowcock said $1.7bn in aid is needed for this year. To date, only four percent of the funds needed for 2018 has been received by the UN.

“Underfunding is the largest single impediment to the humanitarian response in the DRC,” Lowcock said, adding the crisis will continue to escalate if there is no successful political transition and a halt to the violence.

Source: Al Jazeera