2017 IN REVIEW
In 2017, the humanitarian crisis dramatically worsened and spread, affecting people in areas previously considered stable and exhausting the adaptive capacity of those previously affected. The sharp increase in violence and inter-communal tensions, particularly in eastern Congo, Tanganyika and Kasais, made DRC one of the world’s biggest displacement crises with 2.2 million new internally displaced people (IDPs) in 2017, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to 4.5 million. The displacement crisis in DRC also includes over 540,000 refugees from neighboring countries, out of which more than 90,000 arrived in 2017 and are often located in hard-to-reach areas.
By the end of 2017, the rapid deterioration of the situation, along with the combined consequences of epidemic outbreaks and severe food and nutrition insecurity, left some 13.1 million people – more than 1 in 10 Congolese – in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, a 50 per cent increase from January. Women, children and those with special needs remain the most vulnerable. The humanitarian context is further compounded by the political stalemate, the economic downturn, and structural weaknesses in development. In certain areas, logistical and security challenges hinder humanitarian access. In October, the UN activated an L3 emergency for the Kasais, Tanganyika and South Kivu provinces.
Massive displacement and rapid escalation of needs
The beginning of year was marked by the explosion of a new crisis in the Kasai provinces. Initial tensions in Central Kasai rapidly extended to the wider area. More than 1.4 million people - three out of five - were displaced at the height of the crisis, prompting the launch of a Flash Appeal in April 2017. While a relative improvement in the security situation has allowed for many people to return home, 896,000 people remain internally displaced and 33,000 have fled to Angola. Prior to this crisis, humanitarian actors did not have a presence in the Kasai.
At the same time, in the eastern regions of Congo, resurgence of intercommunal tensions and armed conflict between armed groups and the FARDC progressively spread from Tanganyika to neighboring provinces of South Kivu and Maniema, causing massive waves of displacements. The situation did not improve in North Kivu province either, where armed group and militia violence triggered new displacement. In north east and north-west DRC, a new influx of over 90,000 refugees from Central African Republic, Sudan and Burundi resulted in increased competition for scarce resources and contributed to the deterioration of living conditions for the host community.
Acute protection crisis
The resurgence of violence, population movements, as well as frustrations related to the difficult socio-economic context have led to an alarming increase in human rights violations. In the third trimester of 2017, over 30,000 new protection incidents were reported by the protection monitoring mechanism, while some 26,000 new cases of sexual violence were registered in the provinces affected by the humanitarian crisis, out of which 31 per cent in North Kivu alone.
Critical thresholds in food security, health and nutrition
Hunger and malnutrition have reached the highest level on record. 7.7 million people across the country – 11 per cent of the population – are severely food insecure, with this number expected to rise in 2018. This represents a 30 per cent increase from 2017. Insecurity has had a devastating impact on the agricultural season which will be felt well in to 2018, particularly in the Kasais were there has been a 750 per cent increase in food insecurity from pre-crisis to today, and three consecutive planting seasons have been lost. 4.5 million children are acutely malnourished, including an estimated 2.2 million severely acute malnourished (SAM) cases.
Increased displacement and limited access to basic services has left the population increasingly susceptible to epidemics and disease. The current cholera outbreak is the largest on record in more than two decades. Lack of infrastructure also impedes humanitarian access. The poor state of roads and other transport infrastructure across vast swaths of country leave many areas cut off from state services and difficult for humanitarians to access.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.