The United Nations estimates that at least 7.5 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
“A complex and protracted crisis of massive proportions has created humanitarian needs for 7.5 million people, or 9 percent of the population,” said a new report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The report which highlights global humanitarian needs, indicates that for OCHA and its partners to help six million people in DRC in 2016, it needs about $690 million.
The report further singled out the violence ridden Eastern part of Congo that has been afflicted by warfare and ethnic strife over land and control of mineral resources for more than 20 years.
Additionally, at least five million people have limited access to adequate food, almost half the nation’s children under five are chronically malnourished and only 22 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water.
Rising political tensions ahead of elections in November exacerbate the situation. There are fears that President Joseph Kabila who has been in power since 2001 plans to delay the election in order to stay in office.
“The rise in human rights violations in the run-up to the forthcoming elections raises concern that the security situation could deteriorate if the political crisis deepens, worsening the already dire humanitarian needs,” the report added.
Conflicts in neighbouring nations like the Central African Republic and Burundi are also a source of instability, pushing some 250,000 refugees and asylum seekers into DRC.
DR Congo has not had a peaceful political transition since 1960, when the country gained independence.