Up to 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in DR Congo after extreme violence, including reports of rape and indiscriminate killings, erupted in Ebola-stricken Ituri province. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is calling on the international community to seek urgent solutions to end the bloodshed and to stop the humanitarian crisis from spiralling out of control.
"New displacements, lack of financial support, little to no humanitarian access due to insecurity and the spread of a deadly virus, is pushing DR Congo to the brink of disaster. The international community is looking away while a new humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding and it deserves urgent attention now," said Maureen Philippon, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in DR Congo.
"The level of atrocities, human rights violations and killings have reached a new high in Ituri province and again innocent civilians are bearing the brunt of this deplorable violence. We are hearing reports of indiscriminate killings, sexual violence, villages being burnt down and other forms of depravity against men, women and children," she said.
Since early June, intense intercommunal violence in Djugu territory has forced more than 300,000 people to flee and seek refuge in neighbouring territories, according to estimates provided by UNHCR.
According to several news reports, at least 160 persons have been killed while entire villages have been burned and abandoned. Displaced people have moved towards Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, and to more stable locations within Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu territories.
"The horrific consequences of violence are witnessed every day on the ground. It is frustrating to see the displacement and humanitarian crisis in DR Congo viewed by the world as a non-event year by year," warned Philippon.
This latest emergency is likely to overstretch the already limited humanitarian resources available. As of June 25, only 21 per cent of the funds requested have been received.
"In the coming weeks, we will provide displaced persons in Bunia with food, shelters and household items that people can use for cooking and to shower but this will be nowhere near enough to cope with the needs. We urgently call on the international community to turn their declarations of deep concern into urgent action so we can reach as many displaced people as possible and ease their suffering," Philippon concluded."
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Facts and Figures:
Up to 300 000 displaced people in Ituri province alone (June 2019, UNHCR)
Since the beginning of the current Ebola outbreak, there are 2153 confirmed cases in DR Congo and Ituri province alone has recorded 213 confirmed Ebola cases (June 2019), (DRC Health Ministry)
About 13.1 million people are acutely food insecure across DR Congo, this represents 23% of the rural population of 101 territories, out of 145 territories; according to the IPC (August 2018 and June 2019)
DR Congo was declared second most neglected crisis by the Norwegian Refugee Council - Neglected Crisis List 2018
4.5 million Congolese were internally displaced at the end of 2017 (UNOCHA)
There were 1.8 million new displaced people by conflict and violence in DR Congo between January and December 2018 (IDMC)
As of June 25, only 21 per cent of $1.65bn requested to respond to humanitarian needs in DR Congo has been received (UNOCHA)
There are over 542 978 refugees in DR Congo (April 2019) (UNHCR)
As of May 2019, there were 693,054 Congolese refugee and asylum seekers in Uganda (UNHCR)