Katanga in Crisis
Katanga, the richest province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is experiencing a humanitarian and security crisis that is worsening by the day. Since 2011, the number of internally displaced persons in the province has jumped from 55,000 to 500,000 – a more than 900 percent increase. The situation is further complicated by domestic politics, with President Joseph Kabila and many of his closest advisors originating from this province. Rumors of government complicity in the Katanga crisis permeate ongoing debates of how best to respond.
While the United Nations and donor countries have been heavily involved in other parts of the DRC (particularly North and South Kivu provinces), international efforts to protect civilians in Katanga are falling short and must be enhanced well in advance of the 2016 national elections. The UN’s Strategic Response Plan for the DRC is funded at only 24 percent, which has made it difficult to scale-up aid in Katanga. This lack of funding, coupled with a lack of attention, has contributed to a failing humanitarian response.
•The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of Congo must prioritize increased support for the Katanga humanitarian response in his messaging to donors and work with the humanitarian community to strengthen operations in the province.
•With roughly 20 percent of all internally displaced Congolese currently in Katanga, donors must ensure that their funding better reflects the geographical distribution of humanitarian needs.
•In response to fluid population movements, the U.S. and other donors should provide flexible, long-term funding that takes into consideration the extremely high operating costs in Katanga. Donor governments should also support education, protection, livelihoods, and early recovery in more stable areas of Katanga.
•Given the vast distances in the conflict-affected areas, donors should prioritize the provision of mobile clinics with the capacity to assist gender-based violence survivors.
Protection of Civilians:
•The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) should deploy additional logistical and civilian resources in northern Katanga to increase patrols, conflict analysis, and reconciliation efforts.
•MONUSCO, with the clear support of the Security Council, should maintain – and if possible, upgrade – all current temporary operating bases in northern Katanga and open an additional base in Mitwaba.
•Joint operations in Katanga between MONUSCO and the Congolese armed forces must be avoided and no “Islands of Stability” should be created.
•The Security Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC, and the Great Lakes special envoys must advocate for national and provincial dialogues about Katanga’s future well before the DRC’s 2016 elections.
Michelle Brown and Michael Boyce assessed the humanitarian needs of internally displaced people in Katanga Province in May 2014.