DR Congo

DR Congo: Complex emergency situation report #2 (FY03)


Note: The last situation report was dated December 16, 2002


Insecurity, the lack of infrastructure, and limited access to vulnerable populations continue to hinder humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Following an outbreak of violence in August 1998, the Lusaka Peace Accords were signed in July-August 1999. The U.N. Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) began in November 1999. MONUC observers monitor this cease-fire agreement, and investigate cease-fire violations. Joseph Kabila became President of the DRC on January 26, 2001, following the death of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila. On December 4, 2002, the U.N. Security Council authorized the expansion of MONUC from 5,537 to 8,700 international military personnel.

Since the Lusaka Peace Accords were signed, the government of the DRC (GDRC) and key political and armed opposition groups have been discussing peace implementation through the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD), hosted in South Africa. On April 18, 2002, President Kabila and the Uganda-backed opposition group Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) signed a partial agreement that designated Kabila as interim President and the MLC's Jean-Pierre Bemba as interim Prime Minister. The Rwanda-backed Congolese Democratic Assembly based in Goma, North Kivu Province (RCD-G), and a few other opposition groups did not sign the agreement. On July 30, 2002, President Kagame of Rwanda and President Kabila signed a peace agreement, with the Government of Rwanda (GOR) pledging to withdraw all Rwandan forces from the DRC, and the GDRC agreeing to assist in the disarming of ex-Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and Hutu militia Interahamwe forces in the DRC. On September 6, 2002, the Government of Uganda (GOU) and the GDRC signed an agreement on the withdrawal of Ugandan forces and the establishment of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) to focus on resolving conflict in the Ituri District of Orientale Province. On April 2, 2003, the parties to the ICD signed an inclusive transitional agreement. On April 4, 2003, President Kabila promulgated the transitional constitution.

Most foreign troops (from Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) withdrew from the DRC during 2002. Uganda redeployed several thousand troops to the troubled Ituri District in March 2003. Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe sent troops in 1998 to support the GDRC, which controls the western part of the country. The MLC controls most of Equateur Province and some of Orientale Province in the north. The RCD-G, with ties to the Union for Congolese Patriots (UPC), controls much of North and South Kivu, Maniema, Orientale, and Katanga Provinces. In the eastern provinces of the country (northern Katanga, Maniema, North and South Kivu), fighting has intensified involving opposition groups, RCD-G, ex-FAR/Interahamwe, and Mai-Mai fighters.

Insecurity in rural and urban areas has restricted access to agricultural land, decreasing harvest yields and contributing to the food security crisis. Lack of access to traditional markets has discouraged farming. Poverty is widespread and the health care system has eroded due to a lack of resources and continuous looting by different parties in the conflict. Although President Kabila has attempted to address the economic difficulties, the economy faces numerous constraints, and insecurity has resulted in limited private sector activities. Approximately 20 million people in the DRC remain vulnerable due to chronic insecurity and conflict.

Numbers at a Glance

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Total: 2,706,993 UN OCHA (January 2003)
Refugees from the DRC Total: 389,500 UNHCR (February 2003)
Refugees in the DRC Total: 330,100
184,200 from Angola
75,700 from Sudan
22,000 from other countries
19,400 from Burundi
18,800 from Rwanda
7,200 from the Republic of Congo
2,800 from the Central African Republic
UNHCR (February 2003)

Total FY 2003 USAID/OFDA Assistance (to date) to the DRC: $10,442,261
Total FY 2003 USG Humanitarian Assistance (to date) to the DRC: $38,692,261

Current Situation

Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD) Agreements.

On December 17, 2002, in Pretoria, South Africa, the GDRC, primary political opposition groups, and civil society representatives signed an all-inclusive power-sharing deal to establish a government of national unity. Under the agreement, President Kabila will remain in office for a period of approximately two years, to be followed by democratic elections. Members of the RCD-G, the MLC, and other opposition groups will share four vice presidential positions under President Kabila, as well as other key government posts.

The second round of the ICD concluded on March 6, 2003, in Pretoria, with the parties agreeing on a program to draft a constitution, to create an integrated army, and to implement security measures during the future transitional government. The final round of the ICD concluded on April 2, 2003 in Sun City, South Africa, where the parties ratified the previous agreements. However, ICD parties have yet to reach a consensus on the command structure of the integrated army.

Increasing Numbers of Displaced in the DRC.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) estimates that fighting, looting, and targeted violence against civilians have created more than 2.7 million displaced people in the DRC, particularly in North Kivu and Orientale Provinces where increased fighting has displaced 500,000 people since August 2002. The number of IDPs rose by 700,000 since January 2002.

During late 2002, fighting between Mai-Mai militia and Rwanda-backed RCD-G forced more than 30,000 people to flee from the western bank of the Lomami River in Kasai Orientale Province, according to the NGO Catholic Relief Services. The Lomami River separates the central provinces of Kasai Orientale and Maniema.

From January 26 through February 8, 2003, a U.N. inter-agency mission visited the DRC to evaluate the particular needs of displaced populations. The geographic size of the DRC, minimal infrastructure, and persistent insecurity limit humanitarian access, compounding the crisis.

Fighting Causes Displacement to Other Countries.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the following numbers of Congolese refugees are currently located in other countries: 140,300 in Tanzania, 82,300 in the Republic of Congo, 56,100 in Zambia, 39,700 in Burundi, 28,300 in Rwanda, 20,000 in Uganda, 12,600 in Angola, and 10,200 in the Central African Republic.

Local GDRC authorities reported on January 21, 2003 that more than 15,000 people fled fighting in the Mahagi area (located north of Bunia) in northeastern DRC and temporarily relocated across the border inside Uganda's Nebbi District. On February 20, 2003, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) launched an appeal to provide emergency non-food items to 15,000 refugees in Nebbi for a three month period.

Ugandan health authorities in mid- February reported that a meningitis outbreak was under control in the Nebbi District. An estimated 290 Ugandans contracted the disease, which resulted in 35 deaths.

Renewed fighting in South Kivu Province between Mai-Mai militia and RCD-G fighters in late December 2002 and early January 2003 prompted an influx of an estimated 8,500 Congolese refugees into Burundi. Between December 26, 2002 and January 8, 2003 UNHCR authorities in Burundi had registered 7,386 refugees in Cibitoke Province and 1,200 in Bujumbura Rural Province.

Insecurity Persists in Eastern DRC.

On December 30, 2002, the leaders of three, armed opposition groups, MLC, Congolese Democratic Assembly-National (RCD-N), and Congolese Democratic Assembly-Kisangani-Liberation Movement (RCD-K-ML) signed a cease-fire agreement in Gbadolite, Equateur Province, where the MLC is based. Humanitarian organizations hoped that the agreement would facilitate improved access to vulnerable populations in eastern DRC, however, fighting has continued during recent months.

On January 17, 2003, unidentified gunmen ambushed a clearly marked Fizi Red Cross vehicle near Swima town near Uvira. The vehicle was transporting six patients from Baraka: one patient died, and four Red Cross volunteers and the driver suffered bullet wounds. Many international NGOs suspended their humanitarian assistance activities near Baraka and Fizi in 2002 due to continuing insecurity.

Violence Prevails in Ituri District, Orientale Province.

MONUC remains concerned about ongoing military tension in northeastern DRC's Ituri District. An unidentified unit fired on the helicopter carrying the MONUC force commander 15 minutes after it departed Bunia on February 24, 2003. No one was injured, although a bullet penetrated the cockpit. However, the incident prompted MONUC to temporarily suspend all flights to Bunia.

Fighting between the UPC and government soldiers forced more than 2,000 people to flee the area between Bunia and the Ugandan border in late February. On March 2, 2003, the UPC signed an accord with the UPDF operating in eastern DRC, in an attempt to ease tensions between the two groups. Despite the accord, on March 6, 2003, after a UPC attack, the Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers and ethnic Ngiti and Lendu militias clashed with the primarily Hema UPC forces in Bunia, prompting UPC fighters to flee. The UPDF subsequently captured the Fataki and Bule airports, which had been UPC strongholds. International humanitarian sources report that more than 400 UPC members have surrendered A representative in the field from USAID/OFDA traveled to Bunia on March 17, 2003 to assess the effects on the humanitarian and security situation of the recent change in administrative control. The representative reported that the UPDF is now firmly in control of Bunia, Nioki and Mahagi to the north, Mangbwalu to the northwest, Irumu to the southwest, and Kasenyi to the east. The UPDF's stabilizing effect in these towns has allowed the humanitarian community to assist additional vulnerable populations, some of which had remained inaccessible for security reasons for as long as four years.

Despite the improved security situation and humanitarian access, insecurity caused by fighting among militia factions continues outside of UPDF controlled areas. Four humanitarian workers for the Italian NGO COOPI were abducted south of Bunia on March 15, 2003 by an Ngiti militia, but were returned safely on March 17, 2003. In the Bunia area, humanitarian sources also report at least six deaths and several injuries from landmines. MONUC explosives engineers destroyed 670 kg of landmines on April 5, 2003 in Rwampara, seven km east of Bunia. According to MONUC, the engineers destroyed 1,135 antipersonnel mines, and 57 antitank mines.

Cease-fire Talks Continue in Ituri District.

On March 18, 2003, MONUC facilitated the signing of a cease-fire among delegates of the GOU and the GDRC, and various political and armed opposition groups key groups in Ituri. Terms of the agreement include the recognition of human rights, the banning of child soldiers, and a reaffirmation of accords signed in December 2002, that established the demilitarized status of Komanda and Mambasa in Ituri. The UPC did not sign the agreement.

On April 4, 2003 the Ituri Pacification Committee (IPC) was inaugurated in Bunia. The IPC comprises representatives of MONUC, the GDRC, the GOU, the Government of Angola, and civil society, political and military parties to the conflict. As envisioned by the GDRC and the GOU, the IPC will create a new administrative authority for Ituri, and provide for the withdrawal of Ugandan forces. The UPC is not formally taking part in the IPC, but has sent an observer to the discussions.

Massacre in Ituri District.

Although the numbers remain unverified, between 200 to 1000 people were summarily executed in massacres in Drodro, and fourteen surrounding towns, on April 3, 2003. MONUC confirmed the massacre after arriving on April 5, 2003 to investigate the attacks, along with UPDF and ethnic Hema representatives. The MONUC team visited 49 victims, suffering from machete and bullet wounds, in a local hospital. MONUC observers were also shown 20 mass graves, which local leaders said contained 250 bodies. According to witnesses, the assailants, dressed in both military and civilian clothes, attacked from five directions. Some of the assailants reportedly spoke the Lendu language, and some spoke Swahili. The ethnic Hema and ethnic Lendu have traditionally fought over control of resources and land in the Ituri District, however clashes in recent years have escalated. MONUC continues to investigate these attacks.

On April 7, 2003, MONUC flew 200 kg of medicine and plastic sheeting to the survivors of the attacks in Drodro. On April 8, 2003, MONUC delivered 100 kits of household items, including blankets, and cooking utensils, that were donated by UNICEF and COOPI.

Human Rights Violations Documented by the U.N.

On December 31, 2002, a MONUC team visited Mambasa and surrounding areas, to investigate alleged reports of human rights violations perpetrated by MLC members. The MONUC team interviewed more than 350 people, whose accounts indicated a pattern of looting, killing, and violence by MLC and RCD-N members against civilians, including members of the pygmy and Nande ethnic groups. MONUC reported 136 cases of arbitrary executions, 71 cases of rape, 100 cases of forced disappearances, and 96 cases of missing relatives. MONUC confirmed that opposition groups had been engaging in acts of cannibalism. On February 13, 2003, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) reported MONUC's findings to the U.N. Security Council. In response to the report, the GDRC requested that the U.N. set up an international criminal court for the DRC. The UNHCHR reported in a similar fashion following the May 2002 killings and human rights abuses committed by RCD-G in Kisangani.

Food Insecurity Continues in Eastern DRC.

In late February 2003, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) reported that it currently targets more than 1.5 million of the 2.7 million IDPs throughout the country. Due to increasing needs associated with continuing fighting and curtailed access to agricultural lands, WFP has airlifted emergency food to vulnerable IDPs three times in 2003.

Between January and February 2003, WFP airlifted more than 890 MT of maize flour, pulses, beans, and vegetable oil to 107,000 IDPs in Bunia, where the ongoing conflict limited humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.

On February 21, 2003, WFP began its second emergency food airlift in 2003 to assist more than 6,700 IDPs in Kindu, Maniema Province, suffering from food insecurity. WFP distributed more than 200 MT of food, and WFP's implementing partner, MERLIN, airlifted nearly 180 MT of food to meet the needs of 5,000 malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers for three months. ICRC also distributed 300 MT of emergency food and seeds to 10,000 families in Kindu in mid-February. The estimated 190,000 IDPs and residents have been effectively restricted from accessing their fields due to a security perimeter created around Kindu town.

On February 22, 2003, WFP airlifted 936 MT of food to the Kabalo, Kongolo, and Nyunzu Regions of Katanga Province to support 30,000 beneficiaries for four months. On March 7, 2003, a thirteen-ship convoy arrived in Ankoro, Katanga Province, with 626 MT of maize, oil, and salt rations provided by WFP. World Vision International (WVI) reported that the Ankoro delivery was the largest delivery of food aid ever shipped in the DRC. The food aid left Lubumbashi, about 600 km from Ankoro, by train, and was later loaded onto the ships for the voyage down the Congo River to Ankoro. WVI is distributing the food to an estimated 67,000 beneficiaries in Eastern DRC, including 44,000 IDPs.

Humanitarian Assistance in the Health Sector.

According to the NGO Medair, the first phase of a measles vaccination campaign took place during January 23 to January 30, 2003 and vaccinated more than 100,000 children in Bunia and surrounding areas. A second campaign began on February 19, 2003 and targeted Bunia as well as Lingo, Lengabo, Mwanga, Marabo, and Badiya in Ituri District in order to reach 20,000 additional children. On March 6, 2003, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) launched a measles campaign to vaccinate nearly 50,000 children in Katanga Province's Kamina Lenge Region. MSF's ongoing measles vaccination campaign targets more than 250,000 children in Katanga, Bandundu, Equateur, and Orientale Provinces.

According to MSF, during late 2002, a cholera epidemic spread from Katanga Province to Kasai Orientale Province. The IFRC reported that 202 people died from cholera between September 2002 and January 2003 in Kasai Orientale's densely populated Mbuji-Mayi town, and 3,139 people had been hospitalized. On February 24, 2003, MSF reported that the number of cholera patients in Mbuji-Mayi had decreased slightly, but that the number of cases outside of the town rose during the second half of February. As of February 21, 2003, MSF had treated more than 3,800 people in Kasai Orientale Province, and reported 209 deaths. Since January 2003, local health authorities and MSF have also reported an increase in cholera rates in Katanga Province, treating an estimated one hundred patients per week in Lubumbashi town, and three hundred patients per week in the entire province.

On February 6, 2003, the DRC Minister of Health (MOH) announced plans to open 30 healthcare centers to respond to an influenza epidemic in northern Equateur Province. The MOH reports that the epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people in Equateur since November 2002. According to the World Health Organization, in the capital, Kinshasa, fourteen medical institutions reported 3,963 influenza cases including 126 deaths, and 33 health zones reported 27,211 cases including 170 deaths during December 2002 and January 2003. The severely deteriorated health sector, as well as inconsistent access by many residents to sufficient water and sanitation resources, has compounded the prevalence of disease.

Follow-up Report on the Exploitation of Resources.

On February 22, 2003, after 18 months of investigative work, the Belgian Senate Commission determined that no Belgian or non-Belgian companies trading natural resources in the DRC committed illegal acts. The commission began its work in November 2001 following the release of the 2001 report of the U.N. Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC. The report implicated a number of companies in the illegal trade in coltan, diamonds, gold, and wood, among other items. On February 27, 2003, the U.N. Secretary General re-appointed an expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC. The expert panel convened at U.N. Headquarters in New York on March 14, 2003 to prepare for upcoming meetings that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Violent Storm Hits Bandundu Province.

On February 2, 2003, a violent storm struck six villages in the Yumbi District of Bandundu Province. On February 10, 2003, UN OCHA reported 17 deaths, 300 injuries, 1,664 buildings destroyed, and 1,700 homeless families. The DRC Minister of Health visited Yumbi on a multi-organizational assessment mission, and delivered emergency material and medicine, with the support of U.N. agencies and the DRC Red Cross.

Seismic Activity Increases.

On February 28, 2003, Goma Volcano Observatory scientists reported rapidly increasing seismic activity under Mount Nyamuragira in eastern DRC. On March 11, 2003, two villages temporarily evacuated because of loud rumblings from the volcano and a spasm of small earthquakes that lasted several hours. Scientists continue to monitor changes in seismic activity and are attempting to forecast an eruption, which could occur within weeks or a few months. Although Mount Nyamuragira is Africa's most active volcano, it is located in a sparsely habited area, and lava flows from an eruption could not reach Goma. A 2001 eruption of Mount Nyamuragira caused no casualties; however, clouds of volcanic gasses and ash from previous eruptions have killed crops and cattle in surrounding areas. When nearby Mount Nyiragongo erupted in January 2001, lava flows forced more than 350,000 people to flee Goma.

On March 20, 2003, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake with a depth of 10 kilometers struck western Rwanda, and was felt in the DRC. The Goma Volcano Observatory in eastern DRC reported that the earthquake's epicenter was in the southern part of Lake Kivu. No casualties were reported.

In FY 2003, USAID/OFDA provided $180,000 to UN OCHA for modern sensing equipment that will reduce the time needed to collect, analyze, and inform the public about seismic activity in the DRC.

DRC Mortality Study Released.

A mortality study released on April 8, 2003 by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that since conflict in the DRC broke out in August 1998, at least 3.3 million people died in excess of what normally would be expected. According to the study, an estimated 30,000 deaths occur each month due to disease, malnutrition, and insecurity. Improved access to populations in 2002 enabled the IRC to measure mortality rates among 9.3 million people in the East, and 31.2 million in the West. According to the survey, the crude mortality rate in the East was 3.5/1000 per month, and 2.0/1000 per month in the West. In 1997, before the conflict started, the national crude mortality rate was 1.3/1000 per month.

USG Humanitarian Assistance

On November 5, 2001, U.S. Ambassador Aubrey Hooks re-declared a disaster for the ongoing complex emergency in the DRC as a result of the continued fighting since August 1998.

USAID/OFDA has provided more than $10.4 million in emergency assistance to the DRC during FY 2003. USAID/OFDA provides emergency assistance in the food security and nutrition sectors, contributes to emergency market infrastructure rehabilitation, and supports agricultural programs for war-affected, vulnerable, and internally displaced persons.

USAID/OFDA's projects target the geographic areas with the highest mortality and malnutrition rates, and encourage implementing NGOs to expand into new areas as security permits. USAID/OFDA supports programs that provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable, and integrate components for building local capacity in order to promote the development of people's sustainable livelihoods.

USAID/OFDA supports two Emergency Disaster Response Coordinators (EDRCs) in the DRC to monitor the humanitarian situation throughout the country and make programmatic recommendations to USAID/OFDA in Washington.

USAID's Office of Food For Peace (USAID/FFP) has provided 21,770 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance to WFP in FY 2003, valued at approximately $20 million.

USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) is providing $4.6 million in FY 2003 for programs in the DRC. USAID/OTI has developed a national, multi-faceted program to support the transition to peace in the DRC. USAID/OTI supports MONUC's Radio Okapi (through Fondation Hirondelle and Search for Common Ground) in order to increase availability and access to balanced information on humanitarian assistance, the peace process, and demobilization and reintegration. Through a sub-grants program with CARE, USAID/OTI provides assistance to local and national groups, and encourages support of the Lusaka Peace Accords and the Inter-Congolese Dialogue.

To date in FY 2003, the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) has provided $3.65 million to assist refugees in the DRC.


United Kingdom
European Commission
Total Other Donor 2003 Support to the DRC

Source: UN OCHA. (Donor contribution figure includes both U.N. Consolidated Appeal and outside donor funding, during the 2003 calendar year.)

MAP - USAID/OFDA funded NGO/IO activities in DRC - April 2003

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