DR Congo: June mission to assess humanitarian situation before elections
The purpose of the mission is to assess the levels of need among internally displaced people (IDPs), returned refugees, and demobilized combatants -- including dependents and child soldiers. The mission will also look beyond immediate conditions to analyze the overall humanitarian response in the DRC, including coordination, funding, security, and the transition to nation-building, investment, and development. This mission will take place prior to the first round of elections scheduled for the end of July and RI will assess the impact of the overall election process on the humanitarian situation and document emerging priorities for the future.
Several months after 150,000 people were displaced from their homes in central Katanga in the DRC the humanitarian situation is beginning to improve and the UN World Food Program has completed an airdrop of food. However, the protection of displaced and local populations is still not assured and public health remains a major concern. The high number of returning refugees and IDPs is putting a strain on local resources and localized fighting continues in the east of the country, creating new waves of displacement. The displaced are still waiting for more aid from the international humanitarian community to help assure adequate health care and security.
Beyond immediate needs for assistance and protection, the main factor affecting the lives of the displaced in 2006 is the electoral process organized by the UN. The elections will most likely result in the installation of a new government which in turn will affect the humanitarian conditions in the DRC, possibly causing increased fighting or displacement.
RI is particularly concerned that the current focus on elections and post-election opportunities for development and investment is creating a gap in humanitarian assistance that must be bridged quickly. This mission will focus on the humanitarian situation surrounding the lead-up to the July elections, and will analyze:
1. The current humanitarian situation and response in the east, as well as the larger humanitarian context, including funding, coordination, and security.
2. The elections and their impact on the humanitarian situation, including the possibility of increased fighting and displacement around the elections in July.
3. Humanitarian priorities for the post-election period as the new government and international community focus on nation building, investment, and development.
The DRC is one of five priority countries for RI in 2006, given the level of humanitarian need, ongoing conflict and displacement, and opportunities presented by the elections. RI is working to ensure the voices of the displaced are not lost in the momentum of the transition, and that the international community maintains the political engagement necessary to foster stability, justice, and peace.