This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is extremely concerned at the large number of people left homeless by fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ongoing violence means aid agencies are without access to provide even basic assistance in several areas.
UNHCR estimates that around 1.5 million people have had their homes damaged or destroyed. The assessments are based on findings from a UNHCR-led Shelter Working Group from seven of DRC’s 26 provinces, which were surveyed between May and November of this year.
Deadly clashes involving armed groups and Government forces, as well as targeted attacks, have seen many houses being burned to the ground, and building materials and roofs looted and stripped. Some of those forced to flee report entire villages having been reduced to ash.
In the eastern provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, an estimated 88,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged due to violence.
Many people have been left with no choice but to seek shelter elsewhere, where they rely on host families to take them in. This is placing a strain on already limited resources, forcing some to engage in sexual services or child labour.
In spontaneous settlements, people are in destitute and dire conditions, sleeping in huts made of branches and plastic bags. With little protection against the elements or from intruders, they are exposed to sickness and disease. The minimal possessions people still have often end up being stolen. Women and girls are at acute risk of sexual violence.
In the Ebola-affected area near Beni, North Kivu, more than 1,300 cases of human rights violations against civilians have been recorded in the last three months, including physical attacks, indiscriminate killing, pillaging and kidnapping.
In Ituri, recent weeks have seen renewed attacks by often unidentified assailants on military positions and civilians. As a result of the new wave of violence since September in Ituri’s Djugu Territory, UNHCR received reports of close to 100,000 newly displaced persons in the province.
Over one million Congolese are now estimated to have become internally displaced in 2018.
UNHCR urges all parties to the violence to immediately cease targeting of civilians.
It also calls on the Government of DRC to address the causes of forced displacement and to engage in seeking solutions for the victims.
We also urge the international community to come forward with further funding, having received just 46% of the $201 million needed for our operations in DRC in 2018.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In DRC, Andreas KIRCHHOF, firstname.lastname@example.org, +243 817 009 484
- In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley, email@example.com, +41 795 808 702