• 10 March, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reports its first COVID-19 confirmed case. As of 31 March 2020, 109 confirmed cases have been recorded, of which 9 deaths and 3 recovered patients have been reported. During the reporting period, the virus has affected the province of Kinshasa and North Kivu
• In addition to UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) 2020 appeal of $262 million, UNICEF’s COVID-19 response plan has a funding appeal of $58 million to support UNICEF’s response in WASH/Infection Prevention and Control, risk communication, and community engagement. UNICEF’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the following link
• During the reporting period, 26,789 in cholera-prone zones and other epidemic-affected areas benefiting from prevention and response WASH packages
Funding Overview and Partnerships
UNICEF appeals for US$ 262M to sustain the provision of humanitarian services for women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In March 2020, the European Commission (ECHO) and United States Fund for UNICEF has generously contributed to UNICEF DRC humanitarian response. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all public and private donors for the contributions received to date. However, the 2020 HAC has a funding gap of 87%, with significant funding needs in nutrition, education, and communication for development.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
During the reporting period, the identification of the first imported COVID-19 case has further added a layer of complexity to the DRC’s humanitarian context. As of March 2020, 109 confirmed cases have been recorded, of which 9 deaths and 3 recovered patients have been reported. Due to the high contagiousness of the virus, COVID-19 has spread from the province of Kinshasa to the province of North Kivu. The COVID-19 outbreak poses a new threat and further exacerbates the pressure on the DRC’s fragile health care system, which has significant consequences on the lives of vulnerable families and children. In addition, COVID-19 increases the vulnerabilities of families and challenge the humanitarian response in the country, which has been struggling with deadly measles and cholera epidemics that have killed thousands of children over the past year.
As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, children are at heightened risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence amidst intensifying containment measures. Furthermore, stigma related to COVID-19 has left some children more vulnerable to violence and psychosocial distress. At the same time, control measures that do not account for the gender-specific needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls may also increase their risk of sexual exploitation, abuse and child marriage.
As the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets through contact with contaminated persons or surfaces, the risk of propagation to other communities across the DRC remains high due to the limited access to basic WASH services.
Consequently, hand hygiene is extremely important to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In particular, displaced populations living in camps or settlements may be vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the overcrowding, lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation and limited access to health services. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the complexity and gravity of the humanitarian situation in the DRC, where access to basic services and infrastructure is already very limited.
In terms of population displacements and ongoing continuous violence, multiple resurgence was reported in Ituri,
Tanganyika, and South Kivu provinces. In Ituri province, the upsurge in violence has led to increased inter-ethnic tension resulting in an influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the spontaneous sites in Bunia town and around. During the reporting period, 8,369 people, of which 5,300 are children, have been registered in these sites and an additional 1,500 IDPs still wait for the registration process. These IDPs are currently housed in communal sheds and living in very crowded conditions, further exposing them to numerous health and protection risks. As result of the conflicts, 100 vulnerable children including Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC) and Children Associated with Armed Groups and Forces (CAAFAGAs) have been identified in the territories of Djugu, Irumu and Mambasa are in need of care for their protection.
During the reporting period, active militia group clashes persisted in Tanganyika, particularly in Kalemie and Nyunzu territory. 52,440 IDPs have been identified, of which 11,240 are children. An additional 2,500 IDPs have been recorded in Moba territory, of which 1,050 are children in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. The IDPs currently live in host families in Moba territory and an additional 8,100 IDPs reside in surrounding villages in Fube, Kalanda, Musosa and Munkonge. Furthermore, the provincial government continue to advocate for the closure of IDP sites in Kalemie. To date, the living conditions of 65,800 displaced people, including 26,978 children, continue to deteriorate in 13 spontaneous sites surrounding Kalemie with urgent humanitarian needs in health, WASH, child protection, education, and nutrition.
In South Kivu province and Maniema province, the activity of militia groups has led to the displacement of an additional 22,000 persons in Shabunda and Kambarare territory and Kailo territory. The affected populations have not received any humanitarian assistance and continue to live in precarious conditions.
In March 2020, the provinces of Maniema, South Kivu, and Haut-Lomami have been affected by torrential rains and flooding. In Maniema province, 22,000 persons shelter less in Kailo territory and Walungu territories, South Kivu province. The rains have destroyed over 2,000 houses and 501 hectares of crops, further exacerbating food security and vulnerabilities of affected families. In these provinces, the destruction and damage of water points and latrines have limited the affected population’s access to safe WASH services, further increasing the risks of diarrheal disease outbreaks (such as cholera). Affected populations have limited access to basic social services, such as schools, health centers etc, further exacerbating the populations’ vulnerabilities. In Haut Lomami province, more than 246,000 people (including 134,700 children) have been left homeless, exposed to diseases and currently living either in churches, in spontaneous sites, or in host families. The floods have resulted in substantial infrastructural damage, with two flooded centers and 23 flooded schools. As a result of the floods, urgent humanitarian needs are in the areas of health, WASH, and education. In terms of health, 47,670 children of less than 5 years are exposed to malaria due to the increase in number of mosquitoes and the affected populations not having any shelter. For WASH, accessing safe drinking water remains a challenge, as well as lack of personal hygiene could result in an increase in water-borne diseases (cholera, diarrhea). For education, 1,989 children, of which 733 girls, are left out of school without access to quality education as a result of the flooding of 23 primary schools.
In terms of cholera epidemic, 6,297 cases of cholera and 85 cholera related deaths have been recorded as of March 2020.