Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



DRC: 7 million displaced and “unprecedented” crisis, according to the UN

DRC: 7 million displaced and “unprecedented” crisis, according to the UN
People displaced by fighting between Congolese forces and the M23 in a camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC, 13 March 2024.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Escalating violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has led to the displacement of at least 250,000 people over the past month, a senior United Nations official said on Wednesday, describing the situation as a humanitarian crisis.

Far from the country's capital, Kinshasa, eastern Congo has long been overrun by more than 120 armed groups seeking a share of the region's gold and other resources while carrying out massacres. The result is one of the world's largest humanitarian crises, with an estimated 7 million people displaced, many of whom are beyond the reach of aid.

"It's really heartbreaking (and) what I saw is really a horrible situation," Ramesh Rajasingham, director of coordination at the United Nations humanitarian office, told the Associated Press. Mr. Rajasingham travelled to the city of Goma, where many people took refuge. “Such several people displaced in such a short time is unprecedented,” he said.

Amid intensifying fighting with security forces, the M23 rebel group – the most dominant in the region and believed to have links to neighbouring Rwanda – continued to attack villages, forcing many to flee to Goma, the region's largest city, whose estimated population of 2 million is already overwhelmed by inadequate resources.

Although M23 has said it targets security forces and not civilians, it has besieged several communities, with about half of North Kivu province under its control, according to Richard Moncrieff, Crisis' Great Lakes region director. Group, leaving many people trapped and beyond the reach of humanitarian aid.

“We fled insecurity, but here too, we live in constant fear,” said Chance Wabiwa, 20, in Goma where she took refuge. “Finding a peaceful place has become a utopia for us. Perhaps we will never have this chance again,” said Chance Wabiwa.

Re-elected for a second five-year term in December, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi accused neighbouring Rwanda of providing military support to the rebels. Rwanda denies the accusations, but UN experts have said there is substantial evidence of the presence of its forces in Congo.

Regional and UN peacekeeping forces have been asked to leave Congo after the government accused them of failing to resolve the conflict.

Mr Rajasingham said humanitarian agencies were doing their best to reach people affected by the conflict, but he warned that "a huge influx of people poses challenges that are beyond what we can do at the moment".

“We must find a solution to the suffering, the displacement, the loss of livelihoods, the loss of education,” he said.

View more