Statement on the Humanitarian Situation in North Kivu - Humanitarian Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Moustapha Soumare
(Kinshasa, 2 December 2012): Twelve days after the take-over of Goma by the M23 rebel movement, the humanitarian and protection situation remains extremely worrying in North Kivu. At least 130,000 people are displaced in spontaneous sites and camps in and around Goma. The majority have fled the fighting in the area over the past two weeks.
As the implementation of the decisions of the Kampala Declaration gets underway and the M23 withdraws from Goma, the protection of the civilian population must be a priority for all, in line with the ongoing efforts of MONUSCO and international partners. Goma has a population of nearly 800,000 and while awaiting that the Congolese authorities regain full control over the city, one cannot exclude the risk of looting or renewed violence.
I call on all parties to honour their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to protect all civilians.
Humanitarian agencies are stepping up their effort on the ground to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. NGOs and UN Agencies provide the displaced with water, food, basic necessities and medical care, including for the wounded. Humanitarian protection activities are equally important in this context, including assistance to victims of sexual violence and reuniting separated children with their families. Humanitarians are also facing an additional challenge with the contamination of many areas by explosive remnants of war, particularly north of Goma.
Some of the displaced people have already chosen to leave the crowded camps in Goma to return to their homes, where the fighting has stopped. However, thousands of people are at the same time fleeing armed groups’ brutal attacks which are on the rise in other areas of North Kivu, particularly in Masisi. In this context, the situation will remain volatile and hundreds of thousands of people will continue to depend on emergency aid for their survival.
I salute the persistence of humanitarian actors who continue their work under extremely precarious security conditions in the Goma area. To sustain these efforts, I call on all parties to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to people in need wherever they are, and to ensure the protection of displaced and host communities and their access to assistance.
I hope to see the ongoing regional initiatives lead to an effective and lasting resolution of the recurring crisis in eastern DRC, to allow the hundreds of thousands of Congolese to no longer have to suffer from the human tragedies seen every day on the ground.
I thank donor countries for their generosity. Thanks to resources made available through the Humanitarian Pooled Fund, we have been able to rapidly organise an effective humanitarian response. New pledges made by several partners following the most recent deterioration of the situation in the Kivus will help continue alleviating the suffering of thousands of people, in spite of the low funding levels of the 2012 Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP). The HAP has so far received only 56 per cent of the US$791 million required to respond to the humanitarian needs in the country. The DRC is also affected by severe epidemics (measles, cholera…), alarming levels of chronic malnutrition or food insecurity that has worsened since the beginning of this year.
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