Monday, October 30, 2023
A record 6.9 million people are currently displaced within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), mainly due to renewed violence in the east of the country, the UN said on Monday.
Fighting has intensified since early October north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, between the M23 rebellion on the one hand, and the DRC army (FARDC) and so-called “patriot” armed groups on the other.
In its press release, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stresses that the vast majority of the displaced are in need of humanitarian aid.
“IOM is intensifying its efforts to respond to the complex and persistent crisis in the DRC, while the number of internally displaced people has reached 6.9 million across the country, the highest number ever recorded,” says the UN organization.
“With the ongoing conflict and escalating violence, the DRC is facing one of the largest internal displacement and humanitarian crises in the world”, continues the IOM.
The resurgence at the end of 2021 of the M23 (“March 23 Movement”), a rebellion supported by neighboring Rwanda according to numerous sources, has caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in North Kivu and aggravated a humanitarian crisis that has been virtually permanent in eastern DRC for almost 30 years.
At the end of October, some 5.6 million of the DRC’s displaced people were settled in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika, according to IOM, which points out that violence is the main reason for these displacements.
In North Kivu alone, almost a million people have fled their homes due to fighting involving the M23.
“The latest escalation in the conflict has driven more people from their homes in a very short space of time rarely seen in the past. We urgently need to deliver aid to those who need it most”, said Fabien Sambussy, IOM Head of Mission in the DRC.
In June of this year, the UN had sounded the alarm about the 6.3 million figure, which was the record for Africa, but this figure has now been exceeded. The extremely precarious situation in the camps for displaced persons was already giving rise to great concern, but it has worsened this October.
At a time when all eyes are focused on the Israel-Gaza conflict, and the majority of aid is being sent elsewhere as a matter of urgency, we must fear a major humanitarian catastrophe more than ever.
Humaniterre – media de l’humanitaire et du développement durable with AFP