Cologne/Mahagi. A new wave of violence in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has forced over 200,000 people to flee their homes in just two months. According to the United Nations, some 700 people have been killed since the beginning of the violent conflicts. Homes and relevant infrastructure have been destroyed, including a healthcare facility supported by Malteser International, which was demolished and looted.
Roland Hansen, Head of the Africa Desk at Malteser International, said: “More and more people with machete wounds and other severe injuries are arriving for treatment at our medical facilities. The precarious security situation is putting additional pressure on the already stretched humanitarian services in the region and we are very concerned for the safety of our staff.”
For years, one of the world’s most ignored and forgotten crises has been unfolding in DR Congo. Recurrent militia violence and inter-ethnic conflict have worsened the humanitarian situation in the country, forcing over 5 million people to flee their homes. The eastern province of Ituri was already hosting some 1.2 million displaced people before the latest surge of violence.
“Many of the displaced persons have told horrific stories of extreme violence,” said Hansen. “Unfortunately, this crisis receives very little international publicity. While the world is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that DR Congo is not ignored. We must respond quickly if we are to prevent further death and mass displacement. A deterioration in the humanitarian situation would also have a catastrophic impact on the country’s ability to fight COVID-19.”
Malteser International has been present in DR Congo since 1996, primarily working with local organizations and national institutions to improve healthcare services in 250 medical facilities and 14 hospitals.
Note to editors:
Roland Hansen, Head of Africa Department at Malteser International is available for interviews.
+49 (0) 221 96441-181
Find out more on Malteser International’s work in the DR Congo.